20 Tips for Successful Innovation Task Forces

Launching Successful Innovation Task ForcesDuring the past 25 years I’ve seen a lot of innovation task forces come and go. Some of them looked good at the beginning and died a slow death. Some of them looked bad at the beginning and died a quick death. And some of them actually succeeded.

And so, at the risk of giving your task force one more task to do, please take a few minutes to review the following guidelines.

They will save you time. They will save you headaches. And they may even save your company…


  1. Quit now if you’re not really into it.
  2. Make sure everyone else on the task force really wants to do the work.
  3. Get completely clear on what your “task” really is. Clear, as in specific, with definable deliverables.
  4. Establish clear agreements at your first meeting. Otherwise, prepare for chaos, wheel spinning, indecision, and the corporate hoky poky.
  5. Make sure you have committed senior leader sponsors.
  6. Clarify the lines of communication to senior leadership.
  7. Get clear agreements with the senior team. Know their expectations. And make sure they know yours.
  8. Meet more often than you want to. (If you only meet once a month, fuggedaboutit.)
  9. Make sure the person who facilitates your meetings knows what they’re doing.
  10. Limit the size of your task force to seven. Any more than ten and you’ll have a “task crowd.”
  11. Have a sense of urgency, not panic.
  12. Celebrate your successes, even if they’re small.
  13. No triangulating!
  14. Honor your commitments. (And renegotiate the ones you can’t meet).
  15. If a task force member starts to flake out, ask them to either step up or step out.
  16. Take notes at your meeting and distribute them within 24 hours.
  17. Invite non-task force members to participate in your meetings every once in a while. Don’t become a cult.
  18. Speak your truth to senior leaders. If they’re not holding up their end of the bargain, you’re wasting your time.
  19. Communicate what you’re doing to the rest of the company. Don’t keep it a secret.
  20. Do whatever is necessary to stay inspired. (All too often task forces implode under the collective weight of their own seriousness, stress, and attempt to appear professional).

What have I forgotten? Please add to this list, oh esteemed present and former innovation task force members. Let it rip!

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Mitch DitkoffMitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.

Mitch Ditkoff




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No Comments

  1. Micheál Finnegan on October 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Like the list, you could expand and develop each of the 20 into a good book on How to Innovate.
    I would probably include an addition to the first on list
    1.Quit now if you’re not really into it.- quit if nobody up the ladder is really into it!
    Based on experience the success of any project is dependant on total understanding and acceptance by the paymeasters of the extent of the time committment and hence the total cost of the implemetation.
    Maybe another item would be Agree the budget.

  2. Mark Miller on November 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Clear, concise and helpful look at innovation tips. This really could read like a checklist for teams as they move forward in innovation and even general work projects. The overwhelming key that I see throughout the list is communication – and I completely agree. Without strong communication, ideas and innovation can end up coming through a vacuum.

    I actually just blogged about this same topic here: https://www.emergenetics.com/?p=2403 and would love your feedback on it.

    The approach to my post was along a similar line, in that ideas can only happen if you have the right people in the room and if those people are communicating effectively with one another.

    Cheers – and thanks again for an excellent post.

    Mark E. Miller
    Emergenetics International

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