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


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...


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.


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!


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


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

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Authorized Reseller Logo – GoLeanSixSigma.com
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

"In tune with corporate America." — CNN