One Riot, One Ranger

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The unofficial motto of the legendary Texas Rangers was “one riot, one ranger.” In their opinion one ranger was sufficient to take on an angry mob. Old-time rangers were imposing figures.

I received a call last week from a gentleman that had been asked to play the role of a modern day ranger as the leader of an innovation function. He works for a multibillion dollar medical supplies company whose core product development process is focused on incremental product improvements, packaging and bundling. The company is looking for growth from innovation and needs breakthrough ideas to feed into the development process. He was asked to take on the role of innovation leader.

We began the conversation by talking about methods of identifying new product ideas, business model and commercial innovation, the role of design thinking and ethnography, and the effectiveness of corporate incubators. He was full of questions and had a good vision for what he wanted to accomplish.

Then I asked about his team and his budget. He has no team and no dedicated budget. He was going to have to fight for people and funding based on the strength of the concepts he developed. It was tough to have to tell him that he was doomed from the start. Securing funding for an idea, without the resources to even develop it into a feasible concept, is almost impossible in most large organizations.

If you are trying to beef up the front end of your innovation process and load your pipeline with breakthrough concepts, then you have to be willing to invest in at least a small team of cross-functional experts with a budget that is sufficient to identify, screen, validate, and test concepts. The one riot, one ranger approach does not work in large enterprises. The angry mob will chew you up and spit you out.