The First 5 Things to Do When You’re Given Responsibility for Corporate Innovation

By Alex Slawsby |  January 6, 2020

In most corporations, innovation teams face significant challenges before they even get started. And the more prominently celebrated and resourced they are, the greater those challenges. 

Consider the following scenario: a core business team works day after day to maintain and enhance one of the main products that keeps their corporation alive. 

One day, the CEO unveils a new innovation team with a large budget, a beautiful new design space, the newest technology, no dress code, and catered lunches. The core business team wonders why the innovation folks get all sorts of toys and considerations before they’ve done anything. Jealousy and resentment rise. 

Fast-forward one year. The innovation team delivers slides — and not much more. As it becomes clear that the innovation team won’t deliver sizeable returns, much less unicorns, the core business team is ready with pitchforks to tear down the innovation team with glee. 

In my experience, there are clear steps that innovation leaders can take to mitigate these risks, while increasing the likelihood that they — and their teams — can generate a concrete ROI for their company. These are the five things I would do first.


Alex Slawsby is a Contributing Columnist, a member of InnoLead’s Editorial Advisory Board, and Director of Innovation at EmbraerX.