Activity Ownership is Critical to Innovate on Purpose
There are several self-inflicted roadblocks to purposeful innovation, and a big one is lack of clear ownership of the activities to achieve it.
What is “Ownership?”
Ironically, most dictionary definitions of ownership include the word “possess.” But the implications of possession don’t really fit in an innovation workflow performed by teams in software companies. Perhaps that’s because ownership, in the world of business, is defined and achieved with teams. Possession, to me, is all about having, or keeping, something. For our purposes, that's the wrong definition of ownership. To own innovation – you gotta give.
To Own a Role in Product, You Gotta GIVE
In tech product innovation, you have a role to play that depends on and serves other roles to drive success. All team members, through their individual ownership responsibilities, deliver on a common – organizational – goal. And in the world of market-driven innovation, you have to deliver what the market you’ve chosen to serve wants and needs. Ownership isn’t about possession: it’s about responsibility.
Ownership is Responsibility
As the owner of an innovation-related activity, what are you responsible for? At the highest level, it's these things:
Understand what you’re being asked to do and how it delivers on the overall vision of your company.
Acquire the skills necessary to complete your role and deliverables.
Perform your role to the utmost of your ability.
Seek the advice of colleagues who may contribute to the excellence of your deliverable.
Assist others as required to excel in their deliverables.
Follow strategic guidelines by focusing on your responsibilities, while being flexible enough to help in unexpected situations.
Communicate the thinking (and data) behind decisions you make.
Know what outcomes you’re expected to achieve.
Innovation is a lot of work: nobody should try to do it all. Nor should everybody try to do everything. Clear ownership - using the guidelines above - empowers teams to innovate effectively.
About the Author
Diane Pierson is the Founder and Principal Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product innovation for tech companies through strategic focus and powerful go-to-market strategies. Diane is also a visiting instructor at Pragmatic Institute. Contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org.