Developing Innovation Ambassadors
Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for life. It’s an age old saying, but one that holds true.
AfCE’s mentor-led approach to intrapreneurship aims to capitalise on this idea in the business world. Its experienced mentors are what it calls its ‘secret weapon’ – experts with real experience of corporate entrepreneurship, who help their clients to build innovation programmes that work both today, and which are replicable and scalable.
And importantly, they aim to nurture future ambassadors within the client organisation who can continue to keep the innovation fires burning after the AfCE mentors have left the building.
One customer which continues to benefit from this approach is a multi-national pharmaceutical giant.
When a team in Spain undertook AfCE’s Corporate Accelerator, a twelve-week program designed to ‘cut through the innovation fluff to find problem solution fit’, one team member stood out from the crowd.
One participant took a leadership role in the project, and it was quickly apparent that she had many of the core skills required to be a successful intrapreneur. She exhibited motivation, creativity, persuasiveness and versatility. Risk tolerance and decisiveness added to the picture and showed AfCE’s mentors that this candidate was a talented intrapreneur.
As well as helping her succeed in this project, AfCE’s mentors helped the participant train as an ambassador – an internal innovation champion who is able to help teams succeed in their own innovation goals.
A cohort approach to teamwork
As well as helping to navigate internal politics, one of the benefits of an in-house ambassador is that they can keep a team on track. There are naturally moments in an innovation programme where motivation wanes or challenges affect morale. Having an ambassador who knows the process, and who has seen the ultimate benefits of the approach, can significantly boost morale.
Another important factor in ensuring motivation is AfCE’s cohort approach. This means that separate teams kick off a project at the same time, come together throughout the process, and often end up pitching their final ideas at the same time too.
Often, having other teams to work alongside provides motivation, drives competitiveness and shows teams that difficult challenges can (and are being) solved. The AfCE approach often helps teams to deliver more quickly – as teams push to succeed alongside their peers.
So, for AfCE mentoring and teamwork is a crucial part of making innovation work. For this organisation, an ambassador’s input has significantly sped up the process for the teams she mentored, kept participants accountable and assured they were on track. Importantly it has stemmed drop-off, stopping participants who are struggling from leaving the programme, and helping them to work through their challenges.