Innovation teams

Just as many agencies have areas that coordinate procurement and the provision of other advice, agencies could consider giving the task of coordinating innovation advice to an identified team. The team could offer support to areas undertaking new innovative projects, giving advice on the appropriate tools, barriers and considerations for the situation, strengthening the business case, connecting innovators with possible sponsors, and providing links to others who may have encountered similar issues or problems in their own innovation processes.

This team could manage or aid many of the functions identified in the toolkit, such as the ideas management system and reporting of innovation; developing and managing experimental spaces; and reporting to senior management on blockers or framework issues that are inhibiting the innovation process. It could also act as a liaison point with other agencies, and as a coordination point for sharing lessons, ideas and strategies.

The innovation team could be tasked with looking at any new practices or processes introduced into an agency and reporting to the agency executive on how those processes may affect the incentive for staff to innovate (for example, the possible effect of a new reporting requirement and possible options for mitigating any adverse effects on the agency’s innovation potential).

The form the team takes, and its specific duties, need to be tailored to the organisation’s situation and needs. Its duties might range from merely providing advice and guidance to running the organisation’s ideas management processes. The team’s form might range from a couple of people undertaking the role in conjunction with other work through to a dedicated team focused solely on the agency’s innovative activity.

The innovation team should not be seen as the sole area responsible for innovation within the organisation. Indeed one team cannot be the sole area responsible for innovation. To achieve a supportive culture, innovation needs to be a responsibility distributed throughout the entire organisation and embedded in day‑to‑day activities. However, particularly in the early stages of an innovation drive within an organisation, it is likely that there will be a real benefit in having an area that can manage the support and advice functions and coordinate the innovation drive.