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The Role of an Innovation “Catalyst” Partner

In chemistry, a catalyst is defined as a “substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected”. Often, it is also defined as “something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected” or “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change”.

At the Front End of Innovation, an external corporate collaborator can act as a catalyst to drive innovation without effectively changing the organization or the process. To become an effective catalyst, the external collaborator must be a trusted partner to management and the Front End team. The external collaborator must not have a hidden agenda to push certain technologies or solutions, and cannot push to “advance” the organization internally. The collaborator must be unbiased, fact based, and success oriented. Further, the collaborator must be given sufficient time and resources to deliver relevant results for the group decision making process.

Specifically, an effective catalyst acting as a trusted advisor may:

  1. Position technology for maximum innovation impact through an iterative process.
  2. Accelerate the triage process of sorting Front End Innovation ideas by providing independent unbiased input.
  3. Provide alternate technology and strategic development roadmaps.

An effective catalyst partner creates action on the Front End without causing secondary disturbance to the organization as a whole and steps away from the process as the innovation is inserted into the formal development process.

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