Discipline 3: Innovation Champions

Let’s get reoriented here for a moment. Innovation – the 5 Disciplines:

IMPORTANT NEEDS
– What is important to the customer
VALUE CREATION
– General and specific tools for creating customer value
INNOVATION CHAMPIONS
– Be a champ
INNOVATION TEAMS
– Similar to many works advocating multi-disciplinary teams
ORGANIZATIONAL ALIGNMENT
– Get yourself, your team and your company aligned.

The third discipline, Innovation Champions, is an easy 10 minute read, which is kind of strange since it’s one of the major 5 disciplines. There are no real hard tactical tips – I didn’t take away a new practice for my company – but I did get the impression that champions are important and that they have specific responsibilities.

Champion (noun) – a person who is passionate and committed to the innovation; someone who takes full responsibility; someone with the vision to inspire the product team; the person guiding the value-creation process (i.e. 1. create value proposition 2. ideate, 3. synthesize 4. iterate).

The book argues that a project without a champion has essentially zero chance of success.

My concerns are resource-related. At my company, we don’t have a room full of potential champions waiting to be called upon to be innovation champions. Everyone has a role and everyone is busy. Where are these champions coming from? How are they different from project managers? These are nuanced topics which could be discussed at length, so rather than address all this nuance, the authors steer clear. Nonetheless, these are the important questions you and your team should be asking and discussing. Sometimes it’s better to ask the right question than to just look up an answer.

Bottom line: an innovation or an idea without a champion is doomed to failure, according to these authors.