Building upon my popular article Rise of the Evangelist, I wanted to create an article for the global innovation community focused specifically on the importance of the innovation evangelist role.
In my previous article I defined five different types of evangelists that organizations may already have, or may want to hire, including:
- Chief Evangelist
- Brand Evangelists
- Product Evangelists
- Service Evangelists
- Innovation Evangelists
This specialization occurs when the evangelism an organization needs become too big for one evangelist to handle. At that point, a Chief Evangelist creates the evangelism strategy and manages the execution across the team of brand, innovation, and other evangelism focus areas.
When should an organization focus on innovation evangelism?
To continue to exist as a business, every organization should build an infrastructure for continuous innovation, but many don’t. If you’re not sure what this looks like, here is my Infinite Innovation Infrastructure (which leverages the Nine Innovation Roles):
For those organizations investing in innovation, it is crucial to also invest in innovation evangelism when:
- Innovation is part of the company’s strategy
- Innovation is central to competitive differentiation
- The company wants to share their innovation stories
- The company wants to partner with customers to innovate
- The company wants to partner with suppliers to innovate
- The company wants to engage experts in innovation
- The company wants to engage the general public in innovation
You’ll notice many of these points hint at the need for an external talent strategy, and Innovation Evangelism must play a key role. Because of this, I encourage you to download and consult the success guide I created for Innocentive on Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation which focuses on the elements and importance of external talent in any company’s innovation efforts.
Bill Joy, a co-Founder of Sun Microsystems, once famously said:
“There are always more smart people outside your company than within it.”
Any external talent strategy must accumulate energy and then unleash it in a focused direction. And part of the way to do that is by establishing a common language of innovation. The process begins by defining what innovation means to your organization. Consider looking at this as the WHO – WHAT – WHEN – WHERE – WHY – HOW of innovation:
- WHO is to be involved in your innovation efforts?
- WHAT does innovation mean to you? WHAT types of innovation are you focused on?
- WHEN will you be looking for innovation input?
- WHERE can people go to find out more? WHERE do they go to contribute?
- WHY should people want to participate?
- HOW can they participate?
… where we will answer these questions and more:
- Should innovation evangelism be a role or a job?
- What does an innovation evangelist do?
- What makes a good innovation evangelist?