Keeley Wilson & Yves L. Doz in their HBR article 10 Rules for Managing Global Innovation list down 10 things that you need to take care of when your innovation initiatives or programs are expected to be delivered by your teams spread across the globe.
Sure, managing any project with teams spread across geographies is a challenge, as you manage across time zones, cultures and knowledge bases. Authors of the article focus a lot on the project management aspect of the challenge, which I think is very similar to any project that is executed globally. Challenges are similar and so are the solutions. In my opinion, what is important is point 6 in the paper, that is define your Innovation as crisply as possible. Now this is a conundrum, given the nature of Innovation, you can never define the innovation project precisely but at the same time defining it as tightly as possible is what will keep the confusions and iterations to a minimum. This is where the innovation champions need to balance the definition and the independence.
I also liked the point of starting small, their first point. It creates a great learning path for doing bigger things while it build synergies and establishes processes across geographies. I am a great believer of starting small and building on the success and the learnings. Similarly identifying a lead site can be helpful, but I guess it will always turn out to be the site where the lead is based. Limiting number of contractors is good as it limits the no of entities involved but it depends on what kind of project you are doing and what the consultant is bringing to table. I totally agree with bond beyond the ICT infrastructure.
I do not agree with bringing in the standard quality processes in the Innovation projects as I think they make the project management heavy and reporting heavy. People spend more time on telling what they are doing or what they intend to do rather than putting all their energies into doing what is required.
A good read.