COMPANIES SEEKING TO INNOVATE NEED PROJECT COACHES LEADING THEIR INNOVATION TEAMS, NOT PROJECT MANAGERS.
It’s a bold statement.
However, organizations of all sizes invest large amounts of time, money, and human capital into accelerating innovation to drive business growth. They establish sales goals, acquire talent, and build market excitement around “it”, but then assign a Project Manager to monitor and control “it” using the same corporate methodology and/or processes as any other undertaking within the organization.
Business Innovation by definition is “the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.” This process requires the day-to-day management of an equally innovative project leader. A Project Coach
Similar to a Project Manager, a Project Coach brings the traditional skill set for managing projects, schedules, budgets, resource allocation, and communication. The difference between a Project Coach and a Project Manager comes down to 3 intangible qualities: Adaptability, Patient Confidence, and Character.
Adaptability: A Project Coach has the experience to recognize when a process is limiting the teams’ ability to achieve success or operate at peak performance. They understand team dynamics and behavior and can creatively apply those principles to course-correct without the drama (or trauma) of a project stops and starts. When the momentum starts to shift in the wrong direction, the Project Coach calls a time out, makes adjustments, and re-groups the team.
Patient Confidence: Innovation is hard. It’s unpredictable. A Project Coach believes in the process, the team, and the organization will find the path to success. And through patience and consistent reassurance, they work to shield the team from outside pressures while projecting the inherent excitement that the promise of change brings.
Character: Due to the unpredictability of innovating, it almost never goes as planned. A Project Coach is adept at balancing the responsibility to both the team and the organization and is honest in communicating the progress. They acknowledge the challenges but have the conviction to lead despite the challenges.
I’m not saying that a Project Manager, can’t lead an innovative team or effort. I’m saying that, as an organization, if you are investing in an innovative idea, good, or service that you expect to derive business value from, then you need to invest in project leadership that will provide an equal part value to the innovation team. Otherwise, you are doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
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Tiffany Rosik, with TGR Management Consulting, is focused on helping software development companies in the healthcare industry achieve customer success by developing a scalable model to efficiently deploy software, coordinate resources, and manage team communication.