The Intrapreneur’s Team

Neo spends a lot of time working with large companies on new product innovation. One question we often get is how to best structure roles and teams. Here are a few high-level bullets:

Senior Executive’s Role:

  • define the vision and desired outcomes
  • allow the team to explore and define the solution
  • create funding structure and timing “gates”
  • provide physical infrastructure
  • provide permission to fail (but require learning and iteration)
  • create a sandbox from legal, compliance and at-scale operational requirements
  • provide air cover for “scrappy” methods and tools, including technology tools
  • provide access to mentoring

The Intrapreneurial Team:

Phase: Initial Exploration & Validation

  • 1 product manager
  • 1 designer
  • 1 engineer
  • 1 subject matter expert (if this is not the product manager)

Note: this team will be more effective if the people are scrappy and have cross-functional skill sets. This team might also need some part-time assistance from other parts of the organization (for example, analytics, marketing, etc)

Phase: Deeper Validation
The concept has passed the initial phase and now you want to create a more robust “minimum viable product”.

  • augment the initial team only as needed for the MVP (for example, an extra engineer or content specialist)
  • depending on the concept, you might need some resources to help integrate to corporate data systems

Phase: Productize & Integrate

  • keep as much of core team as possible (now domain experts)
  • augment with additional resources as needed to scale and integrate to corporate data systems

The more focused the teams are, i.e. not a matrix structure where people are juggling multiple projects and goals, the more effective this will be throughout the process.

  • Savvy Intrapreneur™

    Although challenging to accomplish because everyone is usually stretched between projects, I agree focus teams ideally produce better quality deliverables.

    • I think it is a fundamental problem that everyone is stretched between projects; companies need to get better at saying no to things. I also believe that teams need to be empowered to focus on results & outcomes, not deliverables.