Delivering resultsOrganizing for innovation

CRCF Grant Recipient

CRCF grant recipient

We're a CRCF grant recipient! We at Organizing4Innovation are proud to announce that we’ve been awarded a grant through Virginia’s Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) by Governor Ralph Northam. Our data analytics project will advance our ability to implement effective and efficient innovation training management. Additionally, we'll be able to continue to calibrate our online innovation training program.

Our Goals

This project, titled “Using Team-Learning and Teamwork-Quality Indicators as Objective Performance Assessments to Vet Early-Stage Innovation Teams”, aims to eliminate areas of uncertainty in innovation projects. Billions of dollars go towards unstructured, poorly-executed projects that are doomed to fail. Therefore, we want to analyze the behavioral factors that successful teams exhibit in order to solve this problem.

The objective of this research project is to investigate if we can assess the progress and performance of early-stage innovation projects with predictive analytics. We hypothesize that if progress and performance metrics show when and where early-stage innovation teams need help, then it is possible to give teams better support, which will result in better outcomes.

Our Approach

We already know that teams perform differently based on how often they update their information, how they build on each other’s ideas, how they challenge each other, how they choose to test their assumptions, and the quantity and quality of the documentation they provide. However, we have yet to use our observations to establish criteria for predicting a successful project. By assessing how teams progress, we can learn how to build an innovation process with reduced risk.

This accomplishment would be a significant step for innovation managers, particularly those working with few teams and/or in small organizations. In our experience, organizations often struggle with comparing the innovation teams in their portfolio. Our project, according to a manager at an international engineering firm, “would finally enable [him] to compare apples to apples.”

An Innovation Step Tracker

Essentially, we plan to create a “Fitbit” for innovation teams. Not only does a Fitbit track your steps, but it tells you how you compare to others, and it provides information about where you can improve your performance. It also gives you a concrete benchmark— 10,000 steps, for example. Just like a Fitbit takes the concept of “getting in shape” from an abstract idea to a series of actionable items, our predictive analytics model will allow us to take innovation from a lofty goal to a manageable, step-by-step process. We expect to provide teams with data that will:

  1. Motivate team members to improve their cooperation, contributions, and overall innovation
  2. Help team members understand where they succeed and where they fall short
  3. Give team members and trainers actionable feedback

Similarly, our data will provide an accurate metric for development, just as a Fitbit objectively accounts for steps taken no matter how much you think you’ve been walking.

Fundamentally, our goal is to give every team the opportunity to excel, because the force that drives innovation isn’t ideas, but the people behind them. As Ed Catmull puts it : “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a good team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.”

Get involved!

If this sounds interesting, there are a few ways you can participate:

  • To understand the current baseline, we are interviewing managers/partners/directors who oversee a portfolio of innovation projects of their professional service organization (law firms, engineering firms, consultancies, accountancies, healthcare organizations etc). We would love to learn more about the metrics you currently use to evaluate the performance and prioritize early-stage innovation teams. What level of due diligence do you undertake before giving teams a go? And how formalized is this process? We will create a report of our findings and share these with all interviewees.
  • To build the predictive analytics model, we are looking to support in total 100 early-stage innovation projects of law firms. We will assist these legal innovators with creating their project description and business case.
  • To find support for the difference in outcomes, we are looking for service organizations, who support 10-100 innovation initiatives per year. We would love to work with 5-10 of your teams and set up an experiment to test whether better insights in team performance will indeed result in better outcomes.

Please contact me, if you are interested in participating or helping out with any of these opportunities. I would love to hear from you!

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