Part 3: Find Your Innovation Champion
You’ve selected your project and you’ve lined up your KPIs. Now it’s time to drive that project forward and over the finish line.
It’s all too common for IT initiatives to get bogged down in bureaucracy, inertia, and poor communication. To overcome those obstacles, you need someone who can pilot the project from beginning to end. You need someone who can craft and share a vision of what the initiative will do, respond to objections, and break through stumbling blocks, provide a bridge between senior management and front-line workers, and work tirelessly to ensure the project’s success.
You need an innovation champion.
What Is an Innovation Champion?
An Innovation Champion is an individual within an organization who moves initiatives forward, aligns business goals and technology, and eliminates barriers to progress. Some organizations are now considering hiring a senior leader for this role or designating one from within their own staff.
When working on a new IT project—or any digital initiative—it’s important to identify your Innovation Champion. If your organization doesn’t have an individual who can fill this role, you should find one externally. Wiss’ Technology Advisory Group provides complete project management services to help manage and execute your project. If you need a champion, we are happy to fill that role. And if you have a champion, we are here to support them in being as effective as possible.
What do Innovation Champions Do?
The specifics of an innovation champion’s role will depend on the organization and the project. But when it comes to IT initiatives, just about all innovation champions have the following responsibilities in common:
- Continually evaluate the goals of the investment and how initiatives are tracking towards attainment.
- Identify and mitigate roadblocks and communicate associated changes to stakeholders.
- Consistently assess the technology dependencies associated with each project.
- Drive innovations and proactively communicate with business leadership regarding progress using hard data related to project KPIs.
- Monitor new innovations coming to the market and gauge how the organization can best capitalize on them.
- Evaluate enablement and adoption strategies to ensure the organization is embracing change.
- Strive to evolve the culture of innovation by soliciting continuous feedback, showing gratitude, and widely sharing success.
- Involve employees across all levels of the organization to build consensus regarding project direction.
- Maintain a living roadmap for future projects and initiatives.
5 Key Qualities of an Innovation Champion
- Strong Connections and Communication: Gifted in connecting with all members of the organization and communicates clearly and concisely so everyone is up to date, aligned on the mission, and can work through conflict.
- Outside-the-Box Thinkers: Open-minded, gains inspiration and insight from unexpected places.
- Personally Invested: Relies on their own passion and vision to motivate them as they pursue a project.
- Team Players: Works well in teams, values feedback, and ideas from all levels of the organization, and takes initiative. Is well-respected by their peers.
- Forward-Looking: Thinks in terms of what’s possible, not just now but in the future, and plans accordingly.
The Innovation Champion’s Roadmap
The five-year roadmap is dead. Technology changes at an exponential rate, and your organization needs to recalculate and realign accordingly. When an Innovation Champion designs a roadmap, they should have an idea as to how technology will change in the short- and long-term. Using that insight, they should design a roadmap that looks only one to two years into the future, with agility built into the design that enables the company to adapt to evolving business and technology considerations.
The right innovation champion greatly increases the chances of your project’s success and makes it more likely that you’ll come in on time and on budget. If you’re lucky, you may already have someone on your staff who’s a perfect fit for this role. But if not, don’t despair. Innovation champions can be trained, hired, or even outsourced.
Wiss’ Technology Advisory Group provides complete project management services including supporting or filling the role of your Innovation Champion.