Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Fully Appreciating the True Meaning of an Innovative Team

Critical Factor of Innovative Organisations No. 10

Innovation is not a product of sterile amalgamation of ideas. Instead, it involves a number of people, who are propelled by different motivations, driving forward the belief that their solution will produce the benefits that the public wants, and they will go about amassing the resources to make it happen for all who wants to enjoy these benefits.

The birth of an innovation begins when a new opportunity calls for ideas to be connected in ways that were never been done before. The people, who had identified the opportunity and created the original idea, may continue to expand different amount of effort to prove and translate it from mere concept into real device that unorthodoxly solve problems and truly bring value to their stakeholders. Therefore, innovation is about the unique way the device creates and delivers value to those who needs it rather than the device itself that makes this happens for these stakeholders.

Metaphorically, it is as if that the innovation flows through a pipeline greased by the ideas that its sponsors have to offer. Since organisations cannot depend on a single innovation, this pipeline will consist the flows of differing threads of innovations with varying degrees of penetration championed by a multitude of different players.

The unit of innovation is the team, and to tactically manage innovation, we need to manage the people behind these innovations. More specifically, it is about managing the dynamics of a team of people, empowered by different talents and skills, who are envisioning, creating and influencing extraordinarily for its cause - bringing the innovation to market. In other words, we cannot leave the evolution of innovative teams to chance. They have to exist by design and be developed through aggressive nurturing.

So, what sort of teams should we cultivate? I called these 'Tag Teams'.

Tag teams are different from ordinary work teams in many ways. First, their members have highly diverse work preferences. Some would love to challenge existing norms by creating new ways of doing things. Others would prefer to plan and organise resources to support the task at hand. Still, a couple would really enjoy directing work and producing outcomes, while the rest would never give up the opportunity of connecting with thier counterparts to promote their ideas.

Also, collectively, members of tag teams are more likely to see beyond their difficulties and problems, and appreciate these as challenges for doing better or as opportunities to access their breakthroughs. They tend to be more resilient and hardy as they see these more as avenues for greater effectiveness and efficiency than obstacles that derail them from their main focus; that is to bring their innovation to market.

Finally, tag teams possess a set of skills that they inherent from their members. There are a total of thirteen skills, and they range from skills that keep them operationally effective and efficient, to skills that spiritually bond the teams to their cause and to their organisations, and to skills that provide greater clarity into the strategies of getting their intended outcome and strengthen the drive for their cause. They use these skills to navigate through the dynamics of working together as a collection of differentiated people. They also apply them to negotiate through the myriad of organisational red-tapes. There is nothing unique about these skills except that no one in the team monopolises any of them, which is unusually unique for tag teams. This means the skills and their competencies are widely distributed, and every member is responsible for their application and accountable for their outcomes for the overall common good of the tag team.

Just like in football teams, tag teams are constraint by their own temperament arising from the interplay of these diverse preferences, orientations, and competencies. Organisational leaders, like coaches, need to understand the working of these elements at their component level as well to appreciate their interactions when they come together to truly know the means of creating, developing and harnessing tag teams for innovation.

Here are the other critical success factors of Innovative Organisations:

This article was 1st written on 1 Feb 2011.
Copyright 2011. Anthony Mok. All Rights Reserved.

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