Why You Need Lunatics, Experts, and Connectors on Every Team

Startup Innovation

Original article here. Secrets of Innovation Teams in Established Companies from Nathan Furr, Co-author, The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Startup into Your Organization

Great lessons in what works in startups (first paragraph) but how this needs to be modified for large organisations (second paragraph).

The startup world has started to recognize that entrepreneurial teams based on the corporate divisional structure work poorly. Rather than building teams based on representation from each functional area (e.g. sales, marketing, engineering), it has become popular to talk about creating startup teams composed of a hacker, hustler and hipster (the hacker creates rapid prototypes, the hustler engages customer feedback to capture users, and the hipster frames beautiful user interfaces or connects the team to the important teams). Although this team structure works well for startups working with a blank canvas, it ignores the unique challenges faced by companies with established products and services.

Although serendipity plays a role in everything, the team that produced the 336E H hydraulic hybrid excavator had a very purposeful structure that facilitated their success. Rather than hackers, hustlers, and hipsters, the hydraulic hybrid team were composed of what we would call: lunatics, experts, and connectors. The experts provided the foundational understanding of the core technology and also Caterpillar customers. The lunatics questioned the key assumptions and brought new technologies and approaches to the table. And the connectors brought the two groups together, while connecting them to willing customers and supportive leaders. Ultimately, it was the experts and lunatics that developed the hydraulic hybrid, but the connectors and experts commercialized it.

#research

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