Poor performance across these different capabilities can in some cases be the result of a lack of organisational or personal ability (i.e., people don’t know how to do these things). In other cases, poor performance can be the result of low or no motivation/willingness to build or strengthen one or more of these critical elements.
To build strong capabilities, there needs to first be buy-in to the importance of these elements which contribute to creating a culture that supports innovation. There then needs to be defined, and consistently applied, processes and tools/technology to support each critical practice. For example, for cross-functional collaboration to be effective, people need opportunities to work on projects, and processes and tools to share ideas and collaborate in an efficient and effective way.
Challenge 4: Lack of personal support for disruptive talent
Finally, in order for disruptive talent to be engaged and successful, proper support needs to be in place for this new type of high potential talent (see Figure 2: Supporting disruptive talent). The disruptor needs to feel a connection to the organisation, and must be able to quickly navigate and overcome any unforeseen challenges or obstacles. They also need to be able to collaborate and create with other disruptors on a regular basis.
At a minimum, in addition to executive sponsorship, a disruptor needs a manager who can clear the path for them, and act as a connector to help the innovator integrate into more traditional teams. The manager must be able to provide the disruptor with the autonomy they need to achieve their goals, while providing clear and constructive feedback along the way.
Additionally, as roadblocks can often be the result of organisational politics, hierarchy or process, disruptors need access to peer mentors who understand both the formal and informal organisation.
The mentors need to be able to offer advice about how to navigate roadblocks in a way that: (1) maintains and/or strengthens important relationships and (2) achieves desired outcomes in a manner that is consistent with corporate values. Without access to these savvy advisors, disruptive talent can easily and quickly find themselves without the support they need to achieve their mandate.
When disruptive talent is brought in at an executive level, they can also benefit from working with a professional coach. As is it common for disruptors to feel like they don’t fit, they can benefit from professional support to reframe their thinking and challenge them to not just adapt to their new environment, but rather find creative ways to successfully fulfil their mandate.
Maximizing the return on your disruptive talent – 10 actions you can take:
Innovation is no longer an option. It is now critical to the long-term viability of every organisation. Although a number of challenges exist, organisations can take some key steps to improve the return on the investment they have to make in disruptive talent by:
1. Helping business leaders learn more about technology, and technology leaders learn more about business.
2. Creating and relentlessly communicating a clear vision for innovation and its supporting strategy.
3. Appointing an executive sponsor and ensuring funding for innovation is in place.
4. Aligning key stakeholders at all levels through effective and continuous communication and involvement.
5. Identifying and implementing a defined and accelerated process for innovation that includes identification of decision makers, risk management, and governance and measurement for each step.
6. Teaching the entire organisation how to be more creative.
7. Aligning rewards and recognition at all levels of the organisations to support innovation through calculated and intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and agility.
8. Leveraging technology to support effective two-way communication and collaboration.
9. Capturing lessons learned from innovation successes and challenges, and applying those key learnings to future innovation projects.
10. Ensuring that disruptive talent have access to peer mentors and/or professional coaches to successfully navigate roadblocks.