Most companies have some concept of shared services. HR, IT, PMOs and other teams often provide a centralized service across the organisation. Chugging all of your designers into a shared pool is a seductive idea, promising better utilization, better backup coverage, the ability to temporarily focus ressource for a big push and a center of excellence with professional sparring and specialization.
These are all worthy goals and if done well, shared services can be a boon to most companies. …
Two years ago I decided to take up coding. I had been on the outskirts of it most of my career, running product, data and design teams.
For people without coding experience, it is hard to imagine. It’s like there’s a secret world only developers can access. At the same time, these tools are treating rather matter-of-factly inside the community. …
Product Managers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. This diversity is part of what makes it a great line of work, but it comes at a cost.
I have met, hired and managed product managers from a very wide range of backgrounds: People with no formal training who worked their way up from a customer care job, people from a design background, from general business education, from technical backgrounds and much more.
Since there is no degree to be had in product management and no obvious formal training, everyone in the field grew into the role at some point…
When corporates setup startup divisions or new ventures the first order of business is staffing. While hiring is always challenging, it is especially so for a corporate venture or innovation unit in the early stages.
Often initial recruitment must preceed clarity on what exactly the team will be doing and indeed the first hires will often spend considerable time figuring out what ideas to pursue and how to go about it.
Setting up a venture unit is often a deliberate embrace of uncertainty, unchartered territory and an attempt to move outside the box, which by definition precludes any clarity on…
Lots of our working life is spent disagreeing.
Designers disagree with developers, finance people disagree with procurement people, marketing disagrees with customer care and everybody disagrees with HR.
As a manager I have often felt that my primary job was to manage disagreements. Done correctly disagreements quality assure decisions and create dynamic environments. Done badly they foster poisonous relationships and bog down delivery.
Whenever disagreement arises, the suggestion of incompetence tends to follow.
The marketing team just isn’t very capable and that’s why they don’t agree with our point of view.
The designer just doesn’t understand the technical perspective.
Anarchy isn’t really a viable model, even (especially) for a corporate startup division wanting to get s*** done.
When corporates setup innovation hubs or agile shops (sometimes for the wrong reasons), one of the key expectations is to rip through the red tape and build a team focused on execution and delivery. The corporate will have a myriad of rules, processes and stakeholders which are seen as a stiffling drag on the ability to move fast and get stuff done. …
As corporates scramble to set up innovation units and corporate startups the most important question often goes unanswered.
As I previously discussed, corporate startup units are all the rage these days. Whatever the initial reasons for deciding to go down that path, it is important that any corporate startup hub (or innovation center, garage, skunkworks or whatever it may be called) has a clear understanding of their unfair advantage.
All companies should have a (not-so) secret sauce. Why will our company succeed in the market, why will customers choose us, why will we do better than competitors, why are we…
These days it’s hard to find a big company that doesn’t have some form of innovation unit.
The “incubator”, “growth team”, “ventures team”, “garage” or whatever else will be held up as the showcase for the innovativeness and agility of the corporate sponsor.
Having worked in a few of these and had contact with many more, I have made a few observations that I hope will make sense to anyone reading this and any subsequent pieces I might write on the topic.
In this first instalment, I will take a look at the fundamental “why” of the corporate innovation unit…