With the rise of entrepreneurship and innovation units, new titles come into play. Have you ever wondered what an Ecosystem Manager does? Or what an Entrepreneurship Engineer screws on? In our series “What’s That You’re Doing?” we introduce new job descriptions. In today’s episode with Sarah Lorenz, Innovation Architect.
Sarah, you are Director Business Development here at German Entrepreneurship, but you are also one of our Innovation Architects. That’s an unusual job title. Can you tell us what you do there?
The question comes up frequently and I have actually been asked whether I really studied architecture - I did not. In simple terms, as Innovation Architects we create spaces in which innovation can take place. For example, a place where people and teams can be creative and create new ideas and products. And additionally through programs that give participants the tools they need to be innovative.
However, the exciting thing - and this is where we differ from classical architecture - is that the space does not always have to be a physical space. Especially during Corona it is also attractive for many clients that we create digital spaces where we can be creative.
What does a typical day as an Innovation Architect look like?
As an Innovation Architect there is no such thing as a typical day. That's because every innovation house we build is an individual one. After all, we live what we preach: Innovation always means focusing on the customer and his needs.
Generally speaking, each day usually includes project management, stakeholder management and many phone calls. As an Innovation Architect, I have to talk to people and be empathetic and a good listener in order to find out what kind of framework conditions are needed for ideas to emerge. This is the only way we can build an individual and sustainable framework.
Do you remember a particularly challenging project?
What I usually find challenging is the question of when a project is a success. I often have to make customers understand that innovation programs are not only about successes, but also about failures. If a team tests an idea in a short time and it fails, that is a great learning. Even if a team pivots because the original idea does not work out, that is a great learning, too. You have to keep in mind that otherwise a lot of time and money would have gone into these unsuccessful ideas.
This also means that not only hard KPIs, such as the number of successful spin-offs, count. Soft KPIs are also important. A project can also be a success if it does not lead to a spin-off, but changes the mindset of employees in the long term. Sensitizing customers to this is a challenge - a fun one of course.
For those who are wondering now: How does one become an Innovation Architect?
There is no special degree required to become an Innovation Architect. In our team, for example, we have both sociologists and business economists. More important are the skills that you should bring along. An Innovation Architect needs:
1. communication skills
2. curiosity and openness for new things
3. the ability to combine an understanding of technology and business
4. the understanding that an idea only works if there is a market for it
5. lots of empathy and authenticity
We have one last tough question for you: How do you explain what you do to your grandparents?
"I have lots of Lego bricks that I assemble individually for each client, so that everyone has the perfect house to create innovation in the end.”
Wow, that’s a nice verbal image. Thanks for the insights, Sarah.
Would you like to adopt this beautiful sentence for your grandparents and put the term Architect in your Linkedin Profile without ever studying Architecture?