4 ways to build an Innovative Team


Leadership Tip of the Week #84

Adapted from HBR

I have lead and worked in many innovative teams and found there are four pillars to creating and sustaining an innovative team:

  1. Hire for a Mission: The biggest misconception about innovation is that it’s about ideas. It’s not. It’s about solving problems. So the first step to building an innovative team is to hire people interested in the problems you need to solve. If there is a true commitment to a shared mission, the ideas will come.
  2. Promote psychological safety. In 2012 Google embarked on an enormouse research project. Code-named “Project Aristotle,” the aim was to see what made successful teams tick. The company combed through every conceivable aspect of how teams worked together — how they were led, how frequently they met outside of work, the personality types of the team members — and no stone was left unturned.However, despite Google’s nearly unparalleled ability to find patterns in complex data, none of the conventional criteria seemed to predict performance. In fact, what it found that mattered most to team performance was psychological safety, or the ability of each team member to be able to give voice to their ideas without fear of reprisal or rebuke.
  3. Create diversity. Many managers hire with a specific “type” in mind, usually people who seem most like themselves. This may be great for creating camaraderie and comfort, but it is not the best environment for solving problems. In fact, a variety of studies have shown that diverse teams are smarter, more creative, and examine facts more thoroughly.
  4. Value teamwork. superior innovators are friendly, gracious, and showed a genuine interest and desire to help me. Their behavior was so consistent that it couldn’t have been an accident. So I did some further research and found that, when it comes to innovation, generosity can be a competitive advantage. The truth is you don’t need the best people — you need the best teams.









Author: Andrew Mann

Managing Partner at NorthBailey. Having had senior marketing & insight roles at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Coop and M&S, I'm now using my experience & network to solve strategic marketing problems for NorthBailey clients

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