Innovation Roles for Managers
* Gardeners see themselves as responsible for making sure that the organisational culture is capable of sustaining ideas. So the emphasis is on creating a general culture where innovative ideas can flourish. Such a culture is probably supportive and allows experiment and risk. The gardener can look after or nurture ideas in their early stages, but there comes a time when ideas have to grow by themselves.
* Talent scouts complement the mentor and gardener. Like the mentor she or he is focused on individual people. But their unique contribution is in seeking talent from “outside.” They focus on identifying and hiring the best people and ensuring they come on board — whether full- or part-time employees or consultants.
* Catalysts in science produce radical change in a normally stable substance. In the context of innovation, a catalyst is someone who stimulates people who work in an organisation with a constant supply of ideas and information. These stimuli can be trends or challenges that the organisation needs to respond to, or techniques being adopted and used elsewhere that the organisation should try and adopt. The catalyst role involves helping the existing structure to change by bringing together diverse elements — teams or individuals to create reaction. One point to note is that once you create the reaction you can’t control it.
* Mash-up artist is a phrase taken from music in which an artist combines elements from different songs — and even other media — to create something new. An innovation mash-up artist is a manager who combines and controls in an organisational sense, tearing down silos, mixing up teams, linking unlikely ideas and bringing in outsiders with the specific aim of challenging current thinking. The key difference with the catalyst is that this time the artist is directing the process.