How to manage your innovation brokers
Innovation brokers act as catalysts, who support and accelerate the open innovation process and culture of your company.
Making your processes favorable to growth and promoting the diffusion of innovation are their main goals. To carry out these tasks, they assist in building relationships between inventors, ’innovation seekers’, investors, and policy makers. They are passionate about finding profound, successful solutions.
Having a collaborative advantage, along with their expertise and skills, they can solve many different problems. In the area of innovation, they have become essential because of the barriers that now hinder relationships between organizations. That’s why learning to manage your innovation brokers can only help your company to thrive.
Where to start
If you want to start transforming your innovation projects into successful ventures, you must first raise awareness and encourage participation.
Brokers aren’t necessarily involved in the whole innovation project. Their primary objective is to help your company create a well-designed plan, which is their most crucial contribution. If your project is well-developed, you’ll have more luck in the selection and funding process.
An innovation broker can help you decide on a project through the use of a selection process. This process is based on 6 different aspects:
- Importance of the project for stakeholders and end-users
- Formation of a collaborative partnership for specific project objectives
- Quality and quantity of knowledge exchanges
- Determining competencies of stakeholders
- Avoiding the repetition of past projects
- Coherence in project summaries
Innovation brokering process
If you want to understand how to manage your innovation brokers, below are the actual steps they take in helping your company:
- Find innovative ideas
- Link appropriate stakeholders
- Express requirements and expectations
- Identify source of financial support
- Aid in the project strategy & partnership
Innovation brokers can participate in the implementation of the project as a facilitator and also in the dissemination of project results as reviewers. However, these are not their primary roles.
Find innovative ideas
The first step is all about finding ideas, or the ideas finding the innovation brokers. They can identify and even suggest ideas. This part requires collaboration and cooperation, making all problems and needs clear. They can help you to detect, analyze, and resolve your problems by studying the context at hand. Analyzing your project plans can also help you to identify possible failures during the selection process.
After you and your broker have found an efficient number of ideas, your organization should use suitable metrics, based on the Balanced Scorecard Principle (BSP), to evaluate them and finally choose the best possible ones to put in your innovation funnel.
Link appropriate stakeholders
In this step, innovation brokers act as “matchmakers”. They help stakeholders find each other, creating opportunities for collaboration. Finding possible stakeholders can happen in several different ways, including informal contexts, but it is particularly beneficial to have contacts and relationships with external networks.
Innovation brokers can also attend a variety of events like business seminars, social events, and clusters to find possible stakeholders. They use participatory approaches to obtain and nurture these contacts. The identification and dissemination of profitable techniques among brokers can also be beneficial.
It is of particular importance that the connections formed are complementary and diverse. The broker can then evaluate the capabilities of each stakeholder in the process, so the interactions are successful. Communication between stakeholders should be constant and can be aided by different online channels such as email, social networks or group chats (skype, slack, etc.). Every exchange should be documented and saved so that everyone can follow conversations and keep up with changes and updates.
Awareness and participation of all stakeholders in this phase is key for the overall insight and realization of the project. Therefore, your company should be open to an effective collaborative network of alliances, planning activities and meetings together with the help of an online agenda. In this way, your entire network will be in order and create optimal organization for all of your current and future activities.
Lastly, remember, finding and matching stakeholders shouldn’t be done with a top-down approach. It should be a collective agreement that encourages ownership among all the stakeholders, working first and foremost on resolving innovation issues with a problem-solving approach.
Express requirements and expectations
This step is all about expressing your demands and expectations. During meetings with stakeholders, information is gathered and shared in an informal way as an initial discussion with prospective stakeholders. Similar to the initiatives they support, brokers use multiple channels of communication to connect stakeholders, including Skype, email, chat, etc.
The innovation broker acts as a translator, helping each stakeholder understand each other during the process. Therefore, you should use your broker as a mediator, always running problems or questions by him or her in order to meet your demands and the demands of the other stakeholders.
In order to promote coordination between stakeholders, your company should adopt a system that allows you to index all needs and objectives and relative KPIs. This setup will then allow your innovation broker to freely evaluate all your demands.
Identify source of financial support
The identification of funding sources is another important part of the brokering process and should be considered from the very beginning. Brokers are able to find various funding opportunities and correspond demands with available financing options.
This process can be complicated, but they use web platforms to find up-to-date information on funding possibilities. It’s also important that your broker keeps it simple, so stakeholders don’t become discouraged. One way you can help your broker is to create a set of funding rules, so your administrative teams doesn’t get overwhelmed with the financial aspects of the process. You should also avoid bureaucracy at this phase, because it only hinders your success.
Aid in the project strategy & partnership
In this final step, a well-planned out project strategy and partnership should be made. It is necessary for the construction of working relationships among all the stakeholders. Brokers should coordinate the project’s progress, encourage participation, assist with collaboration, and communicate the results.
Brokers must keep members active throughout the process, and you can help him or her by building an organizational culture of innovation that continuously fosters participation and communication. Transparency is important to clearly define the framework in which the collaboration between stakeholders will take place.
Throughout this process, it is common that other needs will appear during the project’s implementation. The negative aspect is that it can create uncertainty, which can be a risk. That’s why it’s important to examine your process step by step with the help of your broker.
Learning the steps and processes to manage your innovation brokers can help reduce uncertainty throughout the formation and maintenance of your innovation networks and structures. They are there to help you obtain a sustainable flow of innovation and stay competitive.
Knowledge can be acquired from anywhere, as long as you have the right connections, and your broker can help you to reach your objectives. Innovation brokers will have a progressively significant role in inspiring innovation through worldwide and interconnected networks. So what are you waiting for? Find your innovation broker!