Build ownership capacity or innovation projects will die

We have been making new digital products and services for clients for more than eight years. During this time we have learned that new products will not survive if ownership capacity is not developed by the external teams who work in collaboration with their clients.

In this article we give examples of our work in this area and offer three recommendations to make sure that projects succeed by building ownership capacity:

We have a range of tried and tested techniques from our playbook that we use to create our work. Our products and services help clients realise different business value, from new revenues to creating new product IP. Supplementary to this is our ability to facilitate the development of ownership capacity within the organisations we work with. We believe this is crucial. Ownership capacity is the ability for an organisation to take on, iterate and improve a new service that is co-created with an external party.

Our experience in building new capacity with clients has provided value and longevity to the products we designed. For example:

We worked with Ford Smart Mobility to develop a new data service. Upon completion of the project, we trained the product teams on how to continue running the service as part of our exit strategy. This included a road-map which identified the skills and human resource requirements needed to continue scaling the product in a global market.

Recommendation:

External teams should agree from the outset of the project that clients will be able to own the service once the external consultancy has left. This can be done by developing steps for building ownership capacity into the project plan and agreeing on targets along the way.

We also developed a new business unit for a leading financial services company. Alongside our work, we took a role in hiring high-quality talent who have gone on to scale and expand the service. The business unit continues to grow and earn revenues for the company.

Recommendation:

As soon as the project outcomes become certain, senior project leaders should be devoted to designing a capacity development programme. This should involve tasks such as sales meetings in order to define the skills and capabilities required in the team.

Our ownership capacity approach goes beyond hiring and training a team. When developing an equity valuation platform with Redburn, we worked with the team to develop the product road map. From this, we provided insights into better ways of conducting customer research to inform and extend their product, supporting its future success.

Recommendation:

Design ownership capacity using the same methods that create the digital service. Tools such as observation and user interviews will help define the capabilities of the new staff who own the service.

In summary, there is a danger that good ideas will get lost or ignored if they are not properly owned by the client organisation. We passionately believe in the abilities and strengths of external providers to add new value to clients, but their ideas will have a reduced impact or tenure in the business if they do not build ownership capacity as part of developing new services and products.