Innovation study pinpoints key roles

UK companies could be missing out on potentially creative contributions from employees because they fail to take account of five key roles in the company that are vital for successful innovation.

A new report, Entering Tiger Country: How Ideas are Shaped in Organisations, by executive education and research organisation Roffey Park, examines four contrasting organisational case studies of implementing ideas in organisations, involving British Airways, Save the Children, Permanent Joint Headquarters (a joint HQ for the Army, Navy and Air Force) and Integrisys.

The authors define five key roles in an organisation: spark – originators of an idea who create the vision or define a need; sponsors – usually senior managers who champion an idea; shapers – interested parties who develop the idea; sounding boards; and specialists – usually external advisers or academics.

“These five roles often occur in organisations through accident rather than by design,” claim the authors. “The status of the individuals who perform these roles and the timing of their contribution will vary according to the size and complexity of the organisation.”

They say a key implication from their findings is that organisations need to develop or encourage broad-based thinking and interest in their employees.

By Lisa Bratby

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