Archive for June, 2007

Building an Innovation Team: Running-backs and Wide Receivers

What does it take to innovate? Certainly a great many things, not the least of which is a health dose of luck. At the end of the day, people produce innovation. Many times, teams produce innovation. In this post, I’d like to explore building the ideal innovation team.

This is a really interesting article that compares two types of innovation: Cezanne innovation and Picasso innovation. In other words, incremental innovation or ‘big bang.’ This got me thinking… can you apply a similar model not only to the innovation, but to the people producing the innovation. This line of thought brought me directly to a conversation that I had a few days ago regarding my very own team. I will use our situation as an example to describe what I mean.

My team is working on something new… totally new. When you are working in uncharted waters, individual tasks don’t just fall out of the sky. There is ambiguity and uncertainty. No one can be completely sure that what they are working on will contribute directly to the end goal. In this type of environment, you need people who I will call ‘Wide Receivers’. Wide Receivers need to improvise. When the quarterback lofts a pass, they need to figure out how to get there.

Wide Receivers are great for big gains, but their style of game can certainly be risky. On any good team, you need someone who you know is consistently pushing the team forward. You need someone who is good at taking more mundane tasks and checking them off for the benefit of the team. I call these players, Running-backs. Running-backs don’t get all the glamor or glory of the wide receiver. Most of the time they only get a few yards at a time; however, their contributions are certainly equally as important. Without the Running-back, your team runs the risk of taking too many long shots and never actually moving forward.

As with any team, it is critical for the manager to recognize which of her employees is good at particular tasks. In order to succeed, each team member must be fully engaged and motivated to succeed.

Cell Phone Docking Station

I had this idea the other night… but alas, i was a few years too late. Don’t you hate it when that happens. Anyway, this is a really good idea, and i actually would consider buying a product like this, if:

  • I lived in a house that was bigger than than my 3 room apartment
  • It wasn’t so expensive

There is just not much of a need for me to have a land phone anymore, but it does get pretty inconvenient having to talk on the cell phone when i’m home. It’s small, it runs out of batteries, i put it upstairs, when i am downstairs. Being able to just drop it into a base station and have it ring the hard phone is pretty cool.