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Somebody has to lead the innovation effort. Whether it's at an organizational level or at a team level. And the answer might surprise you. I come from the commercial side of thing, marketing. And I've always held this belief that it's marketing that should be at sort of the helm of the overall leadership initiative because its the marketing function that thinks through the competitiveness of the firm. Right, it's the marketers that have to sort of go to battle.
They're the ones that wake up thinking how are we gonna bite the good fight today. Now, that said, look innovation is a team sport. And any marketing organization that says you know, we own it (laughs) the rest of you stay out of this. No! That's not gonna work. It's just not gonna work. It's a collaborative effort between the commercial and the technical side of things. There's no question about that. I think the mistake you can make though is this at an organizational level, you can point at somebody and say they're the chief innovation officer. Why that's a problem is that everybody else looks around and says well he's the chief innovation officer, I guess it's not my problem.
No, you don't want that. I joke sometimes, you want to kill your innovation champion. Because if you don't, everybody just says look, they got it. We don't have to worry about it. But let's take the question of leadership down a level. Let's think about it in terms of team leadership through a process of generating a new product and idea and taking it all the way through to market. In that case, the leadership of the team varies depending on the nature of the project, in the phase in which the product's in.
If the project for example, is very early in it's flow it's probably good to have the marketers lead it at that stage when they're still formulating an understanding of the market. But then at some point, that team leadership can transition maybe more to the technical, to the engineering side of things where a lot of science has to be developed or brought in to, to make the thing work. At some point your team leader can be from finance.
You know as you get ready to start thinking about making big investments in tooling or in manpower or in structures to support it, you want your finance person supporting that right? They're the ones that are thinking about the return on investment and the opportunity, the trade offs that have to be made to make this project go. Their leadership is critical. As you get closer then back to launching the product, maybe you have the marketers step back in and the balls in their court then. They take the baton so to speak, to use that metaphor.
They gotta move it into the marketplace. So just having one person lead it all the way might not be the right answer. It really also depends on skill sets. You know you've got to have leadership ability. I'd rather take a good leader from a different department then have a sort of a weak leader that may be as functionally aligned to the project. I think you'll get a better result that way.
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