7 questions to innovators

We’ve outlined 7 questions to innovators in established organizations. Each question has two possible answers, but you may only choose one of them.

The good news is: If you choose the latter, you may eventually also achieve the former.

1. Success defined as Growth or Innovation?

Growth is about optimizing revenue and economy of scale. Innovation is about learning what works and what doesn’t. You can’t grow a product before you know the effect it has on customers.

2. To Show off or To Show the way?

Leaders that show off are driven by the expectations of the surrounding organization. This is about handling – and improving – what we already know, and have. Leaders that show they way will show – not tell – their entrepreneurs why they go to work. They make sure that great ideas win over fear of the organization. If necessary, such leaders take chances by making decisions that possibly threaten their career.

3. Solving the problems of Stakeholders or Customers?

Solving the stakeholders’ problems is about making sure you fit in the corporate puzzle. Solving customers’ problems is about learning and adjusting – possibly several times – before finding a product that customers really need.

4. Taking a Position or following a Vision?

Position is about keeping competitors from “stealing” your shares. Vision is about building great technology that solves real problems for real people, possibly making you pioneer a new market.

5. Teams expected to Deliver or Iterate?

Delivering is about launching something that looks complete and impressive, and adds to your existing reputation and brand. Iterating is about learning, in small steps, first under the radar, later in the market majorities. In the beginning of learning, dialog is your weapon (and you can’t Deliver dialog).

6. Organized around Expertise or Autonomous Units?

Expertise is about putting the most experienced people in charge, pick their brains and try to repeat their success. Autonomous units are fast-learning cross-functional squads with just enough people and skills to be able to solve problems outside your organization – without having to ask anyone for permission or help to get the job done. Such units are also expected to fail and learn from it.

7. Developing Heroes or Culture?

Developing heroes is about promoting, and keeping, key personell with skills critical for maintaining your products and services. Culture is about developing knowledge workers into great teams, who in turn can build new great teams (even when the heroes quit).

If you’re either planning for it, or your are in the middle of an innovation effort, we encourage you to discuss these questions with everyone involved. From director to programmer.

We hope it will help you discovering how you should be set up. The war is out there, and in order to win you want to get started without applying any brakes in here.

If these questions provide you with any insight, please let us know! @hauge2 @TomJohannesBang

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