- A mix of innovation and commercial experience (ideally across a range of industry sectors)
- Willing to challenge the status quo and be courageous
- Can solve problems and assimilate new findings quickly
- Big-picture and detail-oriented thinkers
- Balances exploration with exploitation (ideas are useless unless they are brought to market!)
- Anticipates and manages risks; willing to stop an initiative (including their own!)
- Good communicators – credible in front of colleagues, senior management, customers, and other external parties
- Collaborative, easy to work with, and respected by colleagues and senior management – a person keen to ‘command and control’ all the time may not be the right choice
- Manages upwards so that management 'gets' what innovation is about and how it helps the company to achieve its business goals
- Strong programme management skills
- They have a growth mindset - they are hardwired to find (and deliver) new growth opportunities for their organisation
- Comfortable with ambiguity
Let’s not underestimate the importance of intuition and following a hunch – they too are qualities that shape a good innovation project manager.
Gordon MacKenzie’s book Orbiting the Giant Hairball has a quote that I like: ‘Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s licence.’
If you have mediocre talent holding key innovation positions, play to their strengths – but provide proper coaching and support, and bring in external help if necessary.
- How do you go about selecting the right people to work on high-risk/reward innovation projects?
- How well do you share best practices in innovation, and lessons learned from unsuccessful projects?
- What else could you do to support innovation projects and engage staff in innovation?
If you want to be more successful at innovation I recommend this great ebook Innovation Unplugged
And if you would you like to have a pipeline of innovations driving growth, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of 3inno
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