What should a next era innovation organization look like. What types of jobs will it do, what roles and proficiencies are needed? Answering these questions will be critical to a company's innovation efforts.
Organizational Designs that Work
• Showrunner – Discovery process coordinator
• Technological Polymath – Broad aptitude
• Social Empath – Design thinker
• Network Connector – Community/Individual Explorer
• Intrapreneur – Startup exec. & visionary champion
• Domain Connectors – internal and external networking
• Experienced Operators – getting things done
• Technical Enthusiasts – agile developers
Innovation Organization – Framework Components
– The jobs the Innovation Team needs to do
to get the required results
– What is needed to get a job done –
Capabilities, skills, experience
– Who does a job
– Segmentation of jobs and proficiencies
– The types of people best suited to a role
– The segments of motivations and mindsets
– Job description – a statement of a Role
profile that can be filled by a specific
– A profile of proficiencies that fits a position
– Convergence on an actual person
Not included in this version of the framework
Not included in this version of the framework
Skills and competencies
Sum total of motivations,
behaviors, personality etc.
Jobs to Do are how
innovation gets done
Roles are collections of
jobs done by people or
How people think and
Role profile that a person
People have personas
and a mindset
A role gets a set
of jobs done
How does a person enhance the team
How does a person enhance the mission
Using the Framework
Level of Match
Level of Work
Too Few Enough
Number of People
Need: Create and maintain an informed set of
futures, scenarios and forecasts that influence
strategy and opportunity exploration.
Jobs-to-be-done – Foresight & Strategy
• PESTEL trends – consensus and weak signal
• Run futuring exercises and projects
• Foresight method and tool development
• Scenario creation and maintenance
• Integration with business strategy
Need: Align area of interest with corporate strategy.
Need: Define areas of interest to guide exploration
• Understand corporate strategy and strategic intent
• Feedback to corporate strategy process
• Create lists of potential domains for vetting
• Engage with internal and external community for
• Monitor effectiveness of domain choice
Need: Establish new and potentially valuable business
relationships with a variety of institutions and
organizations including startups.
Need: Rationalize new business models and
Jobs-to-be-done – Organizational Growth
• Find ways of working with the right small companies
that benefit both parties
• Create business agreements that advance the pursuit
of new opportunities
• Develop appropriate business models that take
advantage of business relationships
Need: Provide a company-wide hub for innovation
knowledge sharing and activity.
Need: Provide appropriate support to innovation
initiatives happening throughout the company
• Organize virtual and physical events that facilitate
communication between all company innovators
• Create an accessible repository of information and
knowledge related to the innovation practice.
• Build and maintain a sensing system that ‘notices’
significant happenings in the world.
Need: Maintain visibility of relevant
internal/external technology developments
– established and emerging.
Need: Inform future and domain activities about
Jobs-to-be-done – Scouting
Need: Maintain and expand a network of
connections with relevant community
Need: Participate in public and private activities
that develop external relationships.
• Define technology landscape of interest
• Establish and maintain technology activity sensing system
• Catalog relevant technology developments and activities
• Develop technology domain connections (intersections,
• Connect relevant external developments with internal
network for impact
• Go to conferences to meet people and connect
• Get involved in regional and national innovation
• Create connections with innovation organizations (e.g.
• Connect relevant external and internal networks for
Need: Maintain visibility of all sources and links to
information and knowledge being created by
Need: Establish mechanisms for team and company-
wide knowledge sharing
Jobs-to-be-done – Networking
Need: Develop and maintain personal relationships
with people throughout the company
Need: Establish mechanisms for company people to
meet and communicate
• Deploy knowledge gathering and sharing tools
• Identify and maintain relevant knowledge sources and
• Promote availability and use of knowledge tools and
• Regular, steady and effective contributions to the
• Create & maintain corporate-wide community
• Develop and deploy expertise/knowledge based
location and connection
• Facilitate virtual and face-to-face communications
• Establish and maintain trust relationships
Need: Stay up to date on existing and emerging tools
for innovators and innovation teams
Need: Identify gaps in tools and develop new methods
and tools to fill them
Jobs-to-be-done – Innovation System
Process & Tool R&D
Need: Track opportunity creation and outcomes
across all portfolios (especially
Need: Develop, deploy and maintain an effective
system of innovation measurement
Opportunity Flow & Metrics
• Regular research on new and existing innovation
processes, methods and tools and selected
deployment throughout the entire innovation system
(domain, discovery, incubation etc.)
• Maintain process and tool inventory for use by
• Development of proprietary tools that add value to
• Establish and maintain a system for opportunity
tracking and measurement
• Implement and maintain process-based metrics
(numbers, rates etc.) and impact-based metrics
• Develop insights on the portfolios & opportunity flow,
and recommend strategy/tactics for improvement
Need: Determine which opportunities get time and
attention. Focus the opportunity flow.
Need: Decide the next step in the opportunity
maturation process. Maintain or close out
Jobs-to-be-done – Orchestration
Opportunity Decision Making
Need: Maintain effective channels for opportunity
discovery – ad hoc and structured
Need: Create a consistent volume of opportunity flow
into the system
• Develop and maintain the decision-making process and
tools used to validate and select opportunities to focus on
• Insure that optimal opportunity decisions are made at the
right time. Instill an options decision mentality.
• Manage the internal tensions to maximize organizational
acceptance while simultaneously pushing boundaries
• Manage the transformational innovation portfolio.
• Create a number of discovery channels that use
different mechanisms for opportunity identification
• Develop the domain to discovery transition for
launching structured discovery projects.
• Set up a system for solicitation f opportunity ides from
within the company
Need: Establish and maintain an opportunity design
process applied to all opportunities
Need: Maintain a system of opportunity focusing and
shaping that results in high quality,
Jobs-to-be-done – Discovery
Need: Observe, understand and describe relevant
experiences of individuals and groups
Need: Connect experience insight with design
alternatives to influence opportunity design
• Develop and deploy a consistent opportunity model
used in all opportunity discovery efforts
• Employ an opportunity maturation process that identifies
key uncertainties and addresses them effectively.
• Coordinate and communicate with BU stakeholders
• Get opportunities ready for transition to incubation
• Develop and utilize design thinking approaches and
tools for understanding people and communities
• Incorporate experience insight and design principles
into engineering PoC, Prototype and development
Need: Develop and deploy the necessary processes,
methods and tools to do proper business
Need: Establish the necessary internal environment to
allow experiments to be done
Jobs-to-be-done – Incubation
Need: Identify and recruit individuals who can lead
business incubation projects
Need: Support experimentation and business startup
activities the champions need
• Create the test and learn (learning plan) mechanisms
that will guide business experimentation
• Create an environment within which experimentation
is encouraged and facilitated.
• Facilitate governance and support processes to
maximize new venture performance with minimal
overhead and bureaucracy.
• Create and maintain the necessary advisory and
mentoring capabilities venture leaders rely upon
• Develop the means of recruiting venture leaders
having the right mix of mindset and skills
• Develop the incentive structures (not necessarily
monetary) to encourage ventures
• Work with outside stakeholders (e.g. Bus) to ensure
maximum organizational acceptance
Proficiencies - Leadership
Confidence Inspiring - Energizing &
The ability to motivate the team with a compelling vision, in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity, enabling the team to
stretch beyond their comfort zone. Able inspire confidence in and win over stakeholders and senior leadership.
Contribution to developing best practices in innovation. Able to make original contributions to the innovation
community, present at leading innovation conferences, publish and maintain visibility in innovation communities.
Has pulse on trends, market forces and industry pressures. Keen awareness of team and organizational dynamics,
biases and constraints.
Understanding of the organization’s strategic intent, and ability to adjust and adapt strategic direction as a result of
changing circumstances and priorities.
Collaboration and Influence
Ability to influence and persuade various parties, recruit supporters for various endeavors and collaborators to
accomplish goals. Able to get to root cause of conflicts, within the team and the larger organization, and resolve them.
Business Acumen -
Strong business acumen, with specific focus on market validation, time to profit, and Lean/DDI approaches.
Understands strategies and business models to create value, with strong focus on identifying and reducing key
uncertainties to validate business value.
Intimately aware of team member skills and strengths, thereby able to leverage diverse strengths, allowing team to
operate at a peak performance level. Able to ‘let go’ and trust team members with getting the job done, avoiding
Building teams – Developing
Interest in and dedication to nurturing team member careers. Ability to set clear development goals and objectives for
each team member and follow through with coaching and mentorship.
Proficiencies - Exploration
The ability to build knowledge networks and find the most valuable sources of knowledge and connect and engage.
Being creative in finding and interpreting evidence using skeptical curiosity.
The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and experience the motivations that underlie behaviors of interest.
Being able to describe ‘why’ someone behaves the way they do.
Broad Aptitude (Technical &
Broad and deep knowledge in multiple domains, technical and commercial. Understand a broad range of
technological, societal and cultural aspects of many domains and to perceive connections across and between them.
Experimental Imagination & creative
The creative ability to come up with unique, new and compelling concepts through mental recombination. Making
interesting associations - connecting the dots. Exploring the adjacent possible and the adjacent wanted.
Mental Duality- making sense of
The ability to keep the whole and the parts in mind at once. The ability to go from the specific to the general and back
again at will. The ability to connect levels.
Think and reason with qualitative knowledge. Synthesize ambiguous and uncertain information with thinking and
reasoning, to create useful models of complex systems.
Clarifying storytelling and
The ability to craft a compelling narrative and convey both the rational and the emotional aspects of plausible futures.
Options decision making
The ability to make decisions in the face of ambiguity and uncertainty. To recognize the probabilistic and complex
nature of unfolding actions and keep future options open.
Proficiencies - Experimentation
Existential and Permissive mindset
Ability to envision a future existence and give permission to realize it. Able to distinguish between projects essential to
company’s future existence, and projects that take the company in new directions, and the mindset to allow both types to
Experiment and Execute capability
Ability to know when to experiment to reduce uncertainty by testing, learning and adapting, and when to execute by
demanding operational excellence, focusing on quality, cost and efficiency.
Persistence and Perspective
Ability to navigate and overcome obstacles, while being realistic. Dogged determination to prevail in the pursuit of an
opportunity, while simultaneously being able to confront brutal facts about current situation.
Visioning & Championing
Able to create a compelling vision for the for the opportunity. Able to become the ‘champion’ and to sell the vision
broadly within the organization, to garner support
Partnering and networking proclivity
Able to leverage a vast network of internal and external partners, agencies, innovators and start-ups, to move
opportunities forward. Knowing when to rely on external vs. internal resources and able to identify the best partner for
Organizational legitimacy and respect
Able to rapidly earn the respect of stakeholders, peers and partners.
Conscious of, and resistant to,
Is aware of, and works to mitigate, cognitive biases that seep into observation, interpretation and decision making.
Bias towards action
Able to break out of the endless cycle of scenario planning and what –if analyses, able to act with limited information
without feeling the need to ‘boil the ocean’.
Proficiencies - Operation
Able to handle day-to-day management of multiple in innovation initiatives at various stages of progress.
Able to implement and latest iteration of the corporate innovation system and related processes, e.g.
process for generation of new opportunity concepts, the process for validation of an opportunity etc.
Methods & Tools Expertise
Detailed knowledge of the various method, tools and industry best practices related to innovation. Able to
evaluate various solutions, adapt and apply to the right situations.
Understanding of the organization’s powers structures, influencers and detractors, and ability to navigate
around the organizational land-mines to bring people on board to accomplish goals
Reslts Orientation &
Laser-like focus on outcomes. Works to milestones. Able to set goals and chart out activities to accomplish
those goals. Accepts responsibility.
Well-versed in the specific tools and techniques related to various types of primary and secondary
research, including on-on-one engagements, voice-of-the-customer interviews and online research.
Analytical competence –
Skilled at data analysis to support research activities for innovation initiatives including creating decision
making tools for score-carding, market size analysis, creating financial models etc.
Disciplined in maintaining the right level of operational control and flexibility to keep the project or team
focused on the process and established metrics.
•Orchestrate activities of a complex, dynamic system
•Advocate for and protect mission and integrity of the organization
•Obtain and marshal resources required for successful operation
•Monitor system functioning, improve over time
•Understand the business dimensions and dynamics of potential partner companies
•Build reasonable partnership arrangements to facilitate new business models
•Interface effectively with business partner personnel (all levels)
•Effectively communicate business relationships and objectives within the company
• Explore a domain for new opportunities
• Research an opportunity in demand, design and system dimensions
• Tell an opportunity story, get others to understand
• Shape an opportunity and reduce its uncertainty
• Find and cultivate relationships with external organizations that are doing interesting
• Maintain a view of the broad technology landscape – what is happening
• Maintain and develop connections with individuals – create a sensing network
• Establish a presence within the community – attend events, participate in
•Construct complex system models useful for opportunity understanding
•Model a variety of systems – economic, organizational, societal etc.
•Research, identify, deploy methods and tools for systems modeling
•Create outputs and results that give insight into potential outcomes for
internal and external projects
•Identify individuals, internal and external, to connect with
•Outreach and introduction to identified individuals
•Conduct engagements to gather information, knowledge and insight
•Maintain the community of people for everyone to access when needed
• Assures that innovation projects are well defined, scoped and resourced to get the
• Coordinates project resources, schedules, milestones and deliverables
• Plans and supports innovation events – both project and organization focused
• Facilitates meetings, working sessions, workshops and other group activities needed
for innovation projects
• Find and access data and information sources that are relevant to opportunity
• Effectively deal with large amounts of often incomplete and ambiguous data
• Effectively analyze and synthesize gathered data and information to reveal relevant
• Present data and information insights in a manner that is effective and tells a story
• Track trends – consensus and weak signals – that will influence the business
• Develop scenarios of future states and systems that can inform exploration activities
• Communicate future states and scenarios to the organization that are
understandable and compelling
• Assist in domain definition, align futures with strategy
• Insure that the corporate innovation portfolio (transformational opportunities)
contains the right mix necessary to drive future growth objectives
• Interface and interact with the corporate portfolio board and BU leaders to insure
seamless integration with broader corporate portfolio
• Assist pre-incubation discovery activities to support portfolio needs
• Assist in the governance of incubation activities to insure organizational acceptance
Visionary Intrapreneur - Champion
• Sets the business mission and vision – advocates for the business
• Establishes an advisory board – manages advisory input and mentoring activities
• Ultimate arbiter of business strategy, tactics and operations
• External ambassador and partnering deal maker
• Creates experimental designs to test business hypotheses
• Manages critical uncertainties – understands which experiments need to be
• Assists in opportunity design – brings in design thinking perspective
• Builds adopter communities – individuals and organizations to experiment on
The Inovo Group
For more information, check out our website,
or drop Larry a line…
With Inovo as collaboration
partner and guide, clients
transform their offerings,
cultures and innovation
Managing Partner and Co-founder
Ann Arbor, Michigan
P: +1 (734) 604-3887