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How Innovation Teams Can Build Credibility with Business Teams

Understanding the needs of the business before scouting for possible solutions.

calendar icon March 6, 2018

Noted for his pithy opinions as a Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes knew a thing or two about influence and innovation. “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up,” he once said regarding collaboration.

Holmes may have served long before innovation management was common practice in enterprise companies, but his ideas still hold true — if innovation teams have one goal, it’s to influence others. Some of the world’s most successful innovation teams share one thing in common, they rely on their business partners to help them effectively identify and match the needs of the business with possible solutions to drive innovation. But go-to-market strategies and competing priorities can make it challenging for innovation teams to influence business partners in an organization.

A major challenge innovation teams face is understanding the needs of the business before scouting for possible solutions. “Having a clear mission makes it easier to make a buy-or-build decision, identify potential partners and ensure you don’t get swayed by exciting technology that doesn’t actually solve your business challenges,” Hannah Mirza, MediaCom’s Global Head of Partnerships, recently wrote in ADWeek.

So how do innovation teams scout the latest innovations, identify business partners and stay in line with the company’s goals? They need to build credibility, which can be done in a number of ways:

Collaborate with Everyone
Innovation teams must manage relationships with investors, ecosystem partners, researchers and accelerators, in addition to the business teams within their own organization. One of the keys to establishing credibility with these business teams is to be a great collaborator. Successful collaborators capture key internal and external communications when working in a fast-moving innovation network. Another tactic is to establish a toolkit of communication templates, which helps get all business teams on the right page. By centralizing information and communication, innovation teams can avoid “data silos,” which limits collaboration.

Provide Transparency
“At Google we believe that collaboration is essential to innovation and that it happens best when you share information openly,” Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote regarding the company’s strive for transparency. Transparency is one of the best ways to establish credibility with other business teams because sharing information makes people feel like partners.

Platforms like Startgrid can help with transparency in a number of ways including helping innovation teams measure and share successes with business teams, in addition to showing real-time progress on every project. This helps innovation teams and business partners stay aligned, and gives them opportunity to “gut check” if course correction is needed.

Stay on the Same Page
Effective project management is a constant challenge for innovation teams — identifying needs, wrangling stakeholders, capturing information about entrepreneurs, tracking the relationship and project status, etc. Nearly 60 percent of projects fail because of a breakdown in communication. However, 77 percent of high-performing companies understand the value of having conversations with team members that are spread across the company. In the context of a particular project, email is not always the best way to keep everyone aligned on goals, status and outcomes.

Innovation teams need to break innovation silos by adopting new ways of working by leveraging solutions that seamlessly bring together key internal and external stakeholders to create solutions that meet the needs of the business. Real-time conversations specific to a particular need will help keep everyone aligned, and move a project from idea to solution — faster.

Effectively connecting the needs of business leaders to the right entrepreneurs with the right solutions — with a scalable way to manage the work that needs to get done — will help innovation teams build credibility with their business partners.