I'll try to keep this as brief as I can. Recently I have taken up a position within a big agency where I am responsible for an 'innovation cell'. People can voluntarily join this cell and they get to use 20% of their time to work on innovative, new projects/products they choose. Usually this is on fridays. In return, they turn in a part of their paycheck. 50% of the profits made by this cell is distributed in equal parts between everyone in it. Basically it's a sort of 'embedded startup'. There are 9 people who are mostly designers and developers by trade.
Now, I am the only person who works on this cell full time (there's one other person who works on it half-time). So I do customer support, business development, analytics, project management and everything in between that needs attention day-to-day. My background is mostly in Interaction/experience design & information architecture so I am still learning a lot :). On my fridays I do mostly Interaction design for the new projects.
On to the issue. After a few months I have found a few factors that are holding this team back. I'd like to see if anyone here has some insights.
- Follow through after launching. There are a couple of products that are currently live (and have customers), but have no further development. Since people signed up to make new things and the time they get is limited some believe that followup is not their 'job'. And it may not be. Fact is that products tank because there is no follow through.
- Coherence. Because of the 'fractioned' nature of this arrangement it's hard to have an overview of what's happening, what needs to be done and who is doing what. I have tried introducing a project management tool, but again, I failed at getting people to actively update it. Are there good ways you guys have handled this?
- Marketing. The achilles heel of a lot of tech startups :). We don't have any marketeers. I'm wondering if there is a good way to do marketing with such a fractioned, time limited team. Or maybe a way to get a marketeer to join us :).
- Management. Overall I feel the management of the cell is not going well. I took over the job (and methods) from my predecessor but am by far not satisfied with the way of working. I'd like to work on a new approach, but would love some guidance on figuring out what that should be, and on introducing new concepts in an established team with active projects.
I know this is a big question, but any advice will be majorly appreciated. I really want to pull this team together and make amazing things. All the people here are so talented and I'd love to help them realize something awesome. I'm sure the potential is there.