Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Kills Innovation

It is a strange thing. Your new product development project team has spent days preparing for a management review. The presentation goes fine until discussion and questions surround the business plan and profit expectations. A long silence. Likely, the project team cant agree on it at all. Why no commitment and alignment to the business goal? The problem with lack of alignment is that it results in wasted time, resources and ultimately poor execution.

When a project team is not aligned to goals it is a symptom of one or more of the following:
1. The project or NPD is being forced from above and there is not full team buy-in
2. The project team leader has not successfully pulled a cohesive team together
3. The team is dealing with outside department agendas or lack of full participation.
4. The innovation process is too rigid to allow disagreement.
5. Lack of leadership and sponsorship from the next level up
6. Project team members are task saturated and cannot commit fully to this team

With the importance and mental energy put on innovation in most corporations, it is critical not to waste resource. Many times a successful NPD can change the direction of the company or division.

So what can you do to ensure teams are aligned so that they hit their goals? Here are a couple of important questions to answer:

1. Do you have a strong project team leader with leadership skills, and full understanding of project management?
2. Do you have aligned sponsorship of the next level up in the organization
3. Are there clear goals for the team that everyone has signed off on?
4. Is your process allowing the team to speak up and have functional accountability?
5. Are team members being allowed sufficient time to devote to these teams?
6. Are team members really proficient – exhibiting positive energy, as well as skill proficient?

In many companies, NPD team participation is a sideline activity on top of regular “day job”. What starts as excitement can turn out to be overwhelming. The challenges are usually complex and it is easy to get lost in detail rather than stay focused on deliverables. It is up to the senior management team, not the project team to ensure that teams are aligned for success.

No comments: