Rule#5: Appoint A Lead Site
Considering a multi-site firm, we can consider each site as an individual team member. Therefore, similarly with the idea of why assigning oversight and supporting responsibility to a senior manager rule is a good practice; we can say that there should be a lead site as well. Otherwise, each site will take a look at the global innovation activities from its own perspective instead of seeing the big picture first and acting accordingly. Sometimes although the big picture is clear for all sites, without an effective communication and collaboration between the sites, it may become impossible to complete the projects on time and on budget. A good example would be Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola has it headquarter in Atlanta, where also acts as the lead site for the global projects. Despite the fact that after tens of years, many sites of Coca-Cola have the same level of expertise and experience. Appointing Atlanta as the center of decision making was one of the reasons why Coca-Cola has been globally successful, not only with its products, but also with its profitability in its operations and marketing activities all around the world.
Rule#6: Invest Time In Defining The Innovation
Not only for managing the global innovation projects but for all kinds projects planning is the most crucial element among all stages of the project. Even though, directly diving into the implementing the project is so tempting, it might be the worst step that the team can ever take during the project development process. Having said that, when we take the difficulties and all the different extra variable that a global project can bring to account, it becomes almost impossible to complete the project on time and budget. Before starting developing the project, a successful project management team always take care of the scope management, lays out the work breakdown structure and prepares the necessary time management elements by making use of tools such as Gantt chart. It is also important to note that, when a project divided into different countries, languages, time zones and cultures it becomes even harder to improve the lacking parts while building up. Therefore, that’s another reason why every details regarding the project should be determined before starting developing the project, especially when the project includes multiple sites.
Rule#7: Allocate Resources On The Basis Of Capability Not Availability
When managing the global innovation is the case, as a nature of creating the innovation itself, there should be either a unique capability that creates the innovation or a unique combination of the existing capabilities so that an innovative solution is born. However, disregarding the capabilities and picking up the team according to the availabilities rather than the set of complementary skills that the team members have will either cause to unsatisfactory end products or it will become harder to complete the project on time and budget. Moreover, in today’s job market, it’s getting harder to recruit and work with great talents. Hence, it is a fact that when those talents with distinctive capabilities become available, then the ones who were selected to the project team because of their availabilities -not because of their capabilities- will become the second choice and will face the risk of losing their positions. No need to say, job security is one of key motivators at the work place and lack of job security will eventually lower the production of current employees.
Rule#8: Build Enough Knowledge Overlap For Collaboration
One of the key elements of project planning is to determine the interdependencies both between the team members and also between the project modules. Therefore, even though team member should be selected according to their distinctive set of skills and expertise, there should be some overlap between the team members knowledge about what others are working on and how they develop their modules. If there a is no partial knowledge overlap between the sites, then integration management requires so much back and forth adjustment with the multiple sites and this again causes project to go off budget and time.
Rule#9: Limit The Number Of Subcontractors And Partners
Having subcontractors from different fields, which is not essentially the firm’s core competition, might seem like a good option, especially if it’s a cheaper choice. Today many western technology companies are outsourcing and hiring their engineers from Middle Eastern countries where the cost of labor for engineering is significantly lower. However, including subcontractors and outsourcing is quite risky particularly when the number of outsourced members and partners increase. At first, since organizations think that they are saving time, money and increasing their quality by outsourcing the parts that they do not have enough expertise or resource. Yet, whenever the number of subcontractors and partners increase, the complexity of the project goes exponentially up. Communication between the sides becomes crucial and both sites must overcome the differences of time zone, work-ethic and culture. Eventually, involving high number of subcontractors and partners can cause the project to go off budget and time as well as resulting in lack of end product’s quality. Therefore, manager should be particularly paying attention when they decide working with subcontractors and partners and all the pros and cons should be considered carefully before taking any action.
Rule#10: Don’t Rely Solely On Technology For Communication
No one can deny what technology has to offer by means of communication and how it eases our lives. However, when it comes to managing global innovation activities, benefiting solely from technology might not be the best idea. Considering the time zone differences, cultural differences an what it means to have a face-to-face meeting as opposed to a video conference for both parties are very important. Moreover, not only for oversees communication, even within the same company, preferences of communication may vary from person to person. For instance, members of Gen Y find video-conferencing and chatting more convenient and effective as opposed to spending a lot more time for face-to-face meetings. On the other hand, members of Gen X, who are the older generation compared to Gen Y, mostly prefer less technology involved communication.
Image source: Flickr