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Innovation Structure and Teams

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Unleashing the Power of Innovation: Developing Successful Innovation Teams and Structures

Innovation is a crucial element for the growth and success of any organization. In today's fast-paced world, businesses need to constantly innovate and adapt to stay ahead of the competition. However, innovation cannot happen in a vacuum - it requires a well-structured and coordinated effort from teams and leaders across the organization.

The right innovation structure and teams can make all the difference in driving successful innovation programs. In innovative organizations, flexible organizational structures are in place to foster collaboration across functions and locations. This allows teams, departments, and leaders to better support and govern the innovation program, facilitating its implementation.

Innovation Team: 6 Key Features

  1. Strategically aligned

  2. Passionate

  3. Cross-functionality excellent

  4. Synergistic

  5. Committed

  6. Entrepreneurial

One of the key components of a successful innovation program is having the right team in place. Real innovations require a diverse group of people with complementary skill sets, who together can generate ideas, refine them into solutions and then execute them. A high-performing innovation team possesses several key features, including strategic alignment, passion, cross-functional excellence, synergy, commitment, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

In addition to having the right team in place, the innovation structure is also critical for successful innovation program implementation. An effective innovation structure should support the organization's innovation strategy, foster collaboration across functions and divisions, and provide clear accountability and governance for the innovation program.

There are three major roles in the innovation process, each with its own unique set of skills and responsibilities. The creative genius is responsible for generating and refining ideas, while the innovation manager facilitates the innovation effort day-to-day. The innovation leader provides vision and policies that support and enable innovators to bring their ideas to life.

In order to drive successful innovation, teams need to possess certain strengths. These include passion, urgency, challenge, teamwork, planning, preparation, focus, perseverance, new technology, and empathy.

Perfect Innovation Team:

  • Visionary - The force behind creating the world as it could be – and should be.

  • Generator - The generator of the idea who gets an innovation rolling.

  • Iterator - An idea-engineer who takes the original idea and turns it into an innovation.

  • Customer Anthropologist - The keen observer of what customers truly hunger for.

  • Tech Guru - The harnesser of technology to turn the innovation into reality.

  • Producer - The champion of flow. The master of moving ideas along.

  • Communicator - Amplifies and clarifies the idea in the minds of others outside the team.

  • Roadblock Remover - With a hammer – or velvet gloves- knocks away organization, political and financial roadblocks.

  • Forecaster - The forecaster and modeler of the economic and social value of the future of innovation.

While there are many components of an effective innovation program, there are also some common mistakes to avoid. These include not having a direct reporting line from innovation teams to senior management, having an innovation team that is not integrated with other business units or the wider organization, and allowing silos to exist between different business units that inhibit innovation.


Innovation requires the right team and structure to succeed. By fostering collaboration across functions and locations, supporting the innovation strategy, and empowering the innovation team, organizations can drive successful innovation and stay ahead of the competition.

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