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Creating the Right Innovation Team

Developing an Innovative Community

The innovation discipline has caught on to this mindset. It is a leadership position that seeks to maintain a place at the executive table and to continue to make an impact at the highest level, continually innovating over time. Leaders in innovation also see that setting the stage is key, as is creating and fostering a culture of innovation. This includes developing a community which has the willingness and ability to innovate, as put forth in the blog “Innovation is a Team Sport,” by IBM Center for the Business of Government. The blog, referencing a Harvard Business Review article, looks further at these two cogs of innovation:

Willingness to Innovate:

  • Purpose is about a collective identity. The researchers say: “Purpose makes people willing to take the risks and do the hard work inherent in innovation.”
  • Shared values are what we agree is important. The researchers note: “values include individual and collective thought and action.”
  • Rules of engagement are how we interact with one another and think about problems. The researchers write: “Together with purpose and values, rules of engagement keep members focused on what’s imperative, discourage unproductive behaviors, and encourage activities that foster innovation.”

Ability to Innovate:

  • Creative abrasion is honest discourse and rigorous debate, where review meetings put ideas to the test.
  • Creative agility is the ability for teams to “pursue new ideas quickly and proactively with multiple experiments” and “adjust their plans and actions on the basis of the results and to repeat the cycle.”
  • Creative resolution isthe ability to “make integrative decisions that combine disparate or even opposing ideas” to reach a conclusion.

Innovation Talent & Teamwork

All Things Innovation examined the teamwork needed in innovation in “Putting Together Your Innovation Team.” As the community’s recent Innovation Spend & Trends Report indicated, innovation teams are not working in a bubble, or at least not as much as they used to. Are the days of working in a “silo” gone forever? Moving forward, for agile organizations there is a much greater emphasis on cross-collaboration with other teams and departments in the company. From marketing and finance, to research and insights, to technology and IT services, innovation teams are expected to integrate, co-create and align with the business and its strategies on a broader level.

In “Growing the Next Generation of Innovation Talent,” All Things Innovation looked at the theme through the lens of the next generation. With technological developments evolving, and the notable growth of artificial intelligence, it becomes increasingly important to cultivate the next generation of talent for the innovation industry. Attracting and retaining the best talent for innovation, and encouraging and developing the next leaders in research and development, becomes of prime importance to position the enterprise for future success.

Growing the Culture of Innovation

As Adeva notes in its blog, “Creating a Culture of Innovation,” creating a culture of innovation is a key driver of success and growth for organizations: “By promoting a culture that values creativity, experimentation, and risk-taking, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce and drive innovation that can lead to new and improved products, services, and processes.” Adeva points to several steps leaders can take along the road to innovation:

  1. Define and Communicate a Clear Innovation Strategy: This strategy should align with your company’s overall goals and objectives and provide a framework for how innovation will be approached.
  2. Empower Employees to Generate and Pursue New Ideas: This requires a shift away from traditional hierarchical structures and towards a more collaborative and inclusive approach.
  3. Create Psychological Safety: Encourage regular team meetings where everyone can share their progress, challenges, and ideas. Leaders can also facilitate brainstorming sessions and encourage team members to think creatively and critically without any judgment.
  4. Remove Unnecessary Bureaucracy: One way of removing unnecessary bureaucracy is by implementing a flatter hierarchy. Flatter hierarchies reduce layers of management to create a more agile and responsive company. This can be achieved by eliminating unnecessary levels of management, empowering teams to make decisions, and promoting a culture of collaboration and teamwork.
  5. Let Information Flow Freely: Transparency within a company is necessary for building a culture of innovation. In addition to knowing the company’s top priorities, transparency also breeds trust. Trust, in turn, breeds both engagement and personal connections. Taken together, they encourage creative thinking and the confidence to share those ideas and work with teammates to bring them to life.
  6. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration: Cross-functional collaboration can bring together diverse perspectives and expertise to drive innovation and find creative solutions to complex problems.
  7. Celebrate Innovation Successes: If you want to create a culture that values creativity, experimentation, and risk-taking, it’s critical that you celebrate innovation successes. This can help motivate employees and inspire them to pursue innovative ideas and solutions.
  8. Hire With Diversity in Mind: By forming a homogenous team, you run the risk of missing out on the best solutions. Instead, strive to create an environment where individuals can expect to have their views challenged by those who differ in appearance, communication style, and thought processes.

    Collective Innovation

    With the right strategies in place, a culture of corporate innovation can be developed, and thrive, in an atmosphere that values innovation, and harnesses the power of teamwork.

    Putting the right leadership in place to see this perspective is crucial. As Harvard Business Review’s article, “Collective Genius,” puts it, “Great leaders of innovation see their role not as take-charge direction setters but as creators of a context in which others make innovation happen. That shift in understanding is critical to fostering the next generation of innovation leaders and must permeate the organization and its talent management practices.”

    Video courtesy of Brett Bartholomew

    Contributor

    • Matt Kramer

      Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

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