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Team Building

Team Power Dimension #3: Encouraging Team Innovation

Wow, we are already on week three of our seven-week series. If you’ve missed the early content, you can start from the beginning by clicking here. Or if you’d rather read the topic in its entirety, you can download my complimentary eBook, 7 Dimensions of Team Power here.

Team Power Dimension #3: Innovation

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”— Steve Jobs

Team innovation is optimized when the environment supports it. For example, when discussions revolve around self-limiting views, that environment will squelch innovation. Conversely, when a team is positive and open, the environment supports innovation. Brainstorming is comfortable; teams form easily to consider new ways to improve speed, quality, competitiveness, and technology, etc.

Within an innovative team, the team leader also spurs innovative thinking through introduction of new ideas, and encourages creative alternatives and new ways of doing things. Everyone’s ideas receive complete review with open debate from multiple perspectives.

Conversely, I’ve seen companies AND non-profit organizations SAY they want innovation but not really mean it. Actions speak louder than words.

I am very familiar with such a situation where the CEO of a large, well-known organization agreed to start an Innovation Center and hired someone with expertise to make that happen. However, that individual was dogged in all of his pursuits by the corporate attorney, who was included in all conversations from day one. The attorney was risk adverse, worried about loss of reputation and had never worked in an entrepreneurial environment.

Do you think this strategy was intended to foster innovation?

It did not take very long to realize the strategy was to LOOK like they were starting an Innovation Center, but the primary motivation of the CEO was to take as few risks as possible because retirement was a couple of years away and he did not want any distractions from his retirement. Those two motives are antithetical—mutually-incompatible.

After only one year, the Innovation Center’s champion moved on to put his energy where innovation was truly embraced, not just talked about. And here we have not even TOUCHED the topic of lack of support from the team this individual inherited. When a culture is risk adverse, focused on ego and does not embrace change, or innovation, or risk then the result is status quo. Don’t rock the boat, self-preservation and lack of enthusiasm were present in spades.

P.S. Is your team sharing their innovative ideas freely and without concern for being wrong? To think differently is the hallmark of innovation, to have new thoughts is the adventure that leads to breakthroughs. If you have the same old thought you get the same old results. Think something new and achieve new results.

What’s important is not only your answer to this question and premise, but what your team believes—about themselves and about you as their leader.

None of us knows what we do not know about our behavior and its effects. Now’s the time to find out—anonymously! Bring your current challenges to a safe space while upgrading your leadership skills in a setting of peers. Apply today for my Team Leader Effectiveness Course, with dates in July and October.

Each course is limited to 12 participants, so apply early!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’m excited to share this powerful course with you! For course benefits and details, or to apply, click here.



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