Want to take your great idea to solve a real business problem to the next level and innovate a solution? Below is a blueprint of the team you need to do it. Great companies are not built by one person alone but require a coherent Team effort. And nowhere is forming the right team more important than in the innovation start up. Almost everyone has a natural Role they play. Great teams are built and operated by aligning the teammember’s Roles with their job responsibilities. Below is a sample blueprint for a successful company.
How the Roles Come Together In an Innovation Team – The Gabriel Institute
To truly understand the Roles, let’s consider how they all work together in an organization. (To simplify reading, we have assigned a gender to each team member, but those are not important. While cultures may have gender-preferred behaviors, the Roles are more sophisticated and are performed equally well by a man or woman.) Many businesses are started because someone sees an opportunity to accomplish something that will benefit people and also allow them to achieve their own goals. This is done by the Founder, who actually has the dream and sets up the business or organization to make the Vision into a reality.
Our Founder, in this example, saw a need for a unique solution to a safety and security problem in information technology environments. He knew, from his experience, how companies often assumed that technology takes care of itself and he had the creativity to come up with a solution that not only would keep a company’s information safe and would prevent destruction of valuable equipment, but would also maintain superior safety for people working in the environment. He began to dream of a way to bring his solution to the great number of organizations that could benefit from it. The Founder knew he could not make his Vision a reality by himself so the first thing he did was gather a team to help him make things happen. As he talked to people he knew who might be interested or might know someone who would be, he began to feel a bit like a missionary proselytizing for his faith.
There are certain Roles that are required at a minimum to get things going. They can’t KEEP them going or resolve the problems that inevitably crop up on a day to day basis but they start the process. So our Founder gathered for his team a Vision Mover, a Vision Former and an Action Mover. At this point, nothing was happening yet, remember. All that was present was the potential to solve a problem, satisfy an important need and to improve people’s safety and security. The Founder sat down and wrote a Vision Paper to describe what it is that he wanted to accomplish. He convinced the others that it was worth their time, efforts and mutual trust.
The Founder wanted very much to move things forward. He had a few ideas but his ideas just didn’t seem to work very well. He was too caught up in his Vision. Finally, he turned to a friend of his, his Vision Mover, to help. The Vision Mover took the Vision of the Founder and, with the help of the others, generated many highly creative ideas and, by doing this, added the energy needed to move the Vision from the realm of imagination into the realm of what is possible. He made a list of potential customers, telling the others on the team that without an engine to power the organization, it would not last long. He used terms like venture capital and burn rate and business plan, but they all understood it as an engine. He knew this was where they were best off starting and he also knew what the next steps were that this would lead to. It was his job to begin the business plan that would document how he was going to plot their course. The Founder decided what they were to do but the Vision Mover decided what the best way was to get there.
There was a Vision Paper and a business plan. The two of them were still bubbling over with ideas. Some of them were highly impractical or unrealistic but they were too excited to see this. They were dreamers. A dose of reality was needed. Now the Vision Former took over. She led the team in shaping and forming this vast energy and giving it focus, primarily by looking at the potential customer list and evaluating how difficult it would be to get the opportunity to present the product line to them and actually get them to consider its merits. She considered many factors in formatting the final business plan, knowing it would fall to her to close the deal. She also encouraged the Vision Mover to continue to feed ideas to her and the others since she knew it would take a continual flow of energy and determination to get the fledgling company off the ground. When they had their list of prospects fully formed, with materials and strategies for approaching each one, they were ready. They tried to get appointments to make presentations but the people they talked to were too busy. They discovered they needed someone to vouch for them on the inside that would give them credibility. This wasn’t a job for visionaries; it was for someone practical and down to earth. They brought in their Action Mover.
He knew people at the companies they wanted to do business with so he contacted the first three potential customers on the list and returned to the team with two opportunities to present their product line. He also reported that he had run into some other old business colleagues and had their commitments to review the plan for the potential investment they would need to bring the products to market. His colleagues also promised to speak with their friends in the industry. This would begin the buzz that would lead to a continual flow of customers. Now they had the practical resources that the team required to start doing what they wanted to do. When one venture capital firm agreed to fund the start up, the team thought they were nearly ready but the requirements of one of the principals in the firm made it imperative that they change their planned location. So once again the Action Mover sprang into action and found them the location they needed at a price they could afford.
The work began to pile up. There were appointments and paperwork and clerical staff to supervise. So much time was being drawn from these fledgling executives’ time that they couldn’t get the work done that ONLY they could do. At this point it became essential to hire someone to run the day to day operations of the company. They chose an Action Former, who would organize, prioritize and deputize their small staff to begin to develop the functions and methods of the operation. They knew that putting a sales force on the street means dealing with the thousand and one details of day to day management. That job was ably handled by the Action Former.
Now they had resources, and money finally started to come in. That required a manager to make sure it was properly handled and gotten to where it was needed. They also had limited resources for production and decisions had to be made on what resources, both money and materials, were most needed where. They selected and hired a Watchdog, who could carefully take in what was brought and who also made sure that it went where it would do the most good. The Watchdog had a knack for making sure when they didn’t have something that was quite what they needed, something else could be found to substitute. When something was lacking, whatever there was available was made to fill in for the needed purpose. Remember, they were inspired by the Founder’s Vision of the real reason for the company, that it was not only to sell product but to raise the bar on safety and security. Once the sales team was hired and sales materials created, they were ready to launch and the Action Mover made sure the business journals knew about it well in advance. The Vision Former had designed the sales collateral in a way that extolled the virtues of safety and security.
The team was ready now to turn their attention to the future and for that they needed the Explorer, who kept his eyes on opportunities outside that would bring growth to the business. He found out about an information technology professional group that needed industry speakers and he made arrangements for the Founder to give a presentation. He brought the opportunity back to the office and, with the help of the Watchdog, figured out how to offer a free trial. This was responsible for bringing the company to the attention of even more people in the professional community and, since the national level organizations often brought guests from outside the immediate area, the Founder’s fame as a keynote speaker began to spread beyond their city.
As the organization grew, the Founder’s daughter came in during college vacations and helped out as a receptionist. Because she was a natural Communicator, she spent most of her time helping people while talking to them about what they did. One of their customers was in an MBA program and needed to interview someone in a technology-oriented business. The Communicator had just been talking to the Vision Former about the difficulty of getting publicity for the company. She got the customer to come to the company for a special tour and while the Vision Former brought the guest around to see the operation and meet the Founder, the Communicator took pictures with her digital camera. The result was an article in the business column of the local newspaper, which the company placed on their website. When the university President saw the article, the company was invited to present their solution to their information technology department.
The organization was being asked by the investor to show that the work they were doing was having its intended impact but they were running into problems with getting the required information. The Founder sent in the Conductor, who was an expert in fixing the little problems that keep the organizational engine from operating at maximum efficiency. She went to work and got them the information they needed. That information was given to the Watchdog for preparing the report. But someone had to review and edit it to make sure it was up to the standards of the organization and presented them in the proper light.
The Communicator discovered that the Conductor had a flair for editing. She brought this information to the attention of the Founder, in essence brokering a deal between the Conductor and Founder, which resulted in a report that was not only a group effort but really showed how well the team functioned. The Vision Mover realized that this kind of quality deserved repetition so he recommended they prepare more materials that showed what they were doing.
The business now had publications that could be distributed to the media. The Curator kept samples of all the early efforts of the business and started an archive, which delighted the Founder, since it indicated that there was faith in the worthiness of the Vision. Later, when they needed to examine how the business had evolved, the Curator knew what had happened and could give new people a sense of the organization’s traditions and culture to maintain faith in the Vision.
With each member of the organization contributing in his or her own best way of working within their own natural Role, they grew to become a shining example of what could be done in business to provide their unique safety and security solutions.
Author: Rick Zabor
Engineer / Scientist / Researcher turned Recruiter in 1987. Interested in the best way to do things and mixing with people who have passions for life. Writes on topics important to building winning teams and personal growth and accomplishment. Connect with me on Linkedin. Lives in Atlanta, GA.