January 29, 2011
The Idiot's Guide to Launching Successful Innovation Task Forces

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During the past 25 years I've seen a lot of innovation task forces come and go. Some of them looked good at the beginning and died a slow death. Some of them looked bad at the beginning and died a quick death. And some of them actually succeeded.

And so, at the risk of giving your task force one more task to do, please take a few minutes to review the following guidelines.

They will save you time. They will save you headaches. And they may even save your company...

20 TIPS FOR INNOVATION TASK FORCES

1. Quit now if you're not really into it.

2. Make sure everyone else on the task force really wants to do the work.

3. Get completely clear on what your "task" really is. Clear, as in specific, with definable deliverables.

4. Establish clear agreements at your first meeting. Otherwise, prepare for chaos, wheel spinning, indecision, and the corporate hoky poky.

5. Make sure you have committed senior leader sponsors.

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6. Clarify the lines of communication to senior leadership.

7. Get clear agreements with the senior team. Know their expectations. And make sure they know yours.

8. Meet more often than you want to. (If you only meet once a month, fuggedaboutit.)

9. Make sure the person who facilitates your meetings knows what they're doing.

10. Limit the size of your task force to seven. Any more than ten and you'll have a "task crowd."

11. Have a sense of urgency, not panic.

12. Celebrate your successes, even if they're small.

13. No triangulating!

14. Honor your commitments. (And renegotiate the ones you can't meet).

15. If a task force member starts to flake out, ask them to either step up or step out.

16. Take notes at your meeting and distribute them within 24 hours.

17. Invite non-task force members to participate in your meetings every once in a while. Don't become a cult.

18. Speak your truth to senior leaders. If they're not holding up their end of the bargain, you're wasting your time.

19. Communicate what you're doing to the rest of the company. Don't keep it a secret.

20. Do whatever is necessary to stay inspired. (All too often task forces implode under the collective weight of their own seriousness, stress, and attempt to appear professional).


What have I forgotten? Please add to this list, oh esteemed present and former innovation task force members. Let it rip!

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at January 29, 2011 01:29 AM

Comments

Have the intestinal fortitude to tolerate having the official designation of "Village Idiot" bestowed on you more than once during any project....

Posted by: Jon Bidwell [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2011 03:44 PM

Very accurate tips.
I would add "let the team manage the team" and "develop co-leadership"

Posted by: NicoBry [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 30, 2011 11:30 AM

I LOVE your list.

I would add to it:

Schedule the different tasks by relative importance as defined by specialists but agree upfront to react to urgencies as defined by area managers.

Posted by: JJPEREZK [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 31, 2011 11:09 AM

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