In an earlier post I commented on how important it is to understand the knowledge, competencies, attitudes and behaviours of an innovation leader when assessing an organisation’s ability to innovate.
Knowledge of the organisation’s business is important. Important factors include industry sector, product/market segmentation, trends, major customers, competitors, current product range, emerging technologies and external influences.
Specific skills and competencies associate with innovation management should also be assessed. Important factors include creative thinking, analytical problem solving, project management and risk management.
A successful innovation leader should possess the right personal attributes. They need to believe they can make a difference and get things done, they need be inquisitive – naturally seeking out both improvement opportunities and dramatic breakthroughs.
Finally the way they interact with others is important. They need to display determination and committment, they need to visibly and actively support ideas and follow that through by engendering an environment that is both encouraging and challenging.
Such a personal assessment can be often more difficult than a mechanical assessment of the efficiency of a product development process but it’s important to identify and address any weaknesses in the innovation leadership alongside any process improvement activity.