Innovation Roles for Managers
* Ethnographers study and learn from human behaviours across cultures and generations. In an innovation sense they search for needs and interests that are not yet met or even fully expressed by the organisation’s customers or users. So for example, they might identify that users of a service are increasingly concerned about access to a service at night and therefore would change patterns of staff hours or offer online support to meet this need.
* Venture intellectual capitalists act as fund-holders who can invest in and support ideas and new offerings. They generate and sustain a portfolio of new offerings with fast return and high ROI x 2 (return on investment and return on innovation). They tend to be budget holders with relatively free rein and good minds for spotting long shot-ideas with a chance to succeed. It’s important to allow the venture intellectual capitalist to be judged across a whole portfolio rather than on a case-by-case basis.
When to use the roles
You probably don’t need all of these roles in your organisation but you certainly need some. And their appropriateness can vary depending on the culture of your organisation.
Ethnographers research culture a great deal and look for ways that customers are using certain products and services and then work to adapt them. A similar approach is suitable for an organisation like Greenpeace, which campaigns globally on an issue but needs to adapt the campaigns to different cultures.
Oxfam, on the other hand, adopts a more gardening approach with the role of innovation firmly located in learning and development. The task there is to create an organisational framework in which others can succeed and innovate.