There are some essential creative management skills required when dealing with research and development teams. These groups of individuals are concerned with idea creation (ideation) which is a naturally chaotic and free-form process. Here I’ll show you what skills you need to look for in those managing creative researchers.
- Ability to change: Research and innovation teams need to be able to change tact and direction quite rapidly. Their managers need to be able to firmly direct team members towards whatever innovation strategy the firm are pursuing. If the company needs to change direction quickly in order to pursue new business models or markets then research is often the first place where creative new ideas need to be nurtured. Having a well-defined change management strategy is essential for handling change in all organizations.
- Social skills: It is true of any manager that the bulk of your work is involved with social interaction. Creative management need to be keenly aware of motivating their team members to help drive on new interactions between the team members and with other departments in the company. Many new ideas will come from outside departments (marketing, customer support, customer feedback, sales, etc.) so innovation team members need to be open to additional communications.
- Planning: All project managers are defined in their role by needing to have good planning skills. This involves setting up clear goals and breaking down the work activities required to reach these objectives. Creativity and innovation management requires more flexibility in this as the creation of new ideas can never be truly nailed down. Instead, you need to be able to plan out the various prototyping, experimentation, brainstorming and other fuzzy front-end processes required to come up with a sufficient amount of new ideas.
- Broad experience: Creative management should also have a broad range of work experience. Ideation can be prone to group-think if all individuals in the team have same background and experience. For this reason, individuals with a broad range of experiences (industries, work types, project types, etc.) can often offer different or quirky perspectives when deciding upon new creative ideas.