One of the many implications of the world’s companies big digitization projects is that line managers of all stripes and outlooks are expected to be far more comfortable with technology and far less reliant on corporate IT to identify, test, and deploy new products and services for them.
In the past, a lot of IT teams have taken the “if you build it, they will come” approach to helping with innovation by launching an “innovation lab” or something similar, and waiting for employees to make use of it. But, as IT teams who have set up one of these labs in the past few years will attest, it now attracts an underwhelming number of participants.
Enter the Innovation Coach
All this doesn’t mean that IT teams no longer have a vital role to play in their company’s large and growing digitization efforts, however. Among many options, line managers will still benefit from IT teams’ help with digital innovation and in improving the success of technology experiments.
And a handful of the world’s IT enterprise architecture (EA) teams – whose main task is to describe and document the design of organizations, including processes, systems, reporting structures, and technology – are already developing
First they develop an easy-to-use, lightweight framework designed to be used by non-architects for technology experimentation and then, second, they encourage people to participate by explaining how colleagues have already made use of it, rather than just focusing on some of the more hard, measurable benefits of participation, such as the number of days it took to get a prototype up and running.
Some EA teams have even gone one step further and look to coach colleagues how to use these kinds of frameworks. To do this, they need to exhibit five key attributes:
Tailor coaching style to the situation and to the individual.
Identify critical behaviors and prioritize skills that should be coached
Present both reinforcing and corrective feedback
Reinforce key teachings with examples from past experience
Provide opportunities for individuals to apply the teaching points in practice
The EA team’s degree of involvement in this kind of work will, like most resourcing decisions, boil-down to available capacity, demand from others across the company, and the relative importance of this kind of work to the function.