It takes skilled people with big ideas to consistently produce innovative ideas. But how do you foster such a team into being? Does it involve a lot of Craigslist? In an article for Harvard Business Review, Greg Satell breaks down four simple but important points for building an innovative team:
- Hire for mission.
- Promote psychological safety.
- Create diversity.
- Value teamwork.
With Your Powers Combined…
Motivation can make all the difference in the world. That means that you must hire for the specific type of problem being solved, because people who are passionate about that type of problem will work much harder than those who are not passionate. It does not mean some employees are incompetent and others are great; it is just a case of finding the right foot for the slipper.
Promoting psychological safety is an interesting notion that does not stem from a place of, “We can’t hurt anybody’s feelings!” Rather, research from Google, Harvard, and MIT and Carnegie Mellon respectively find that teams perform better when they are always comfortable speaking their minds. Teams that speak roughly equal amounts perform better than teams where one or two people dominate the conversation too. So basically, once you have collected a group of really smart people, you need to ensure they are all given equal and respectful platform to speak.
The third tip, to create diversity, sounds like one of those vague edicts that any business leader will issue, and it kind of is. But this tip is also backed by research; diverse teams perform better because they have to work harder to unite on solutions. Different backgrounds and experiences come together like a shuffled deck of cards (and as I can say from first-hand experience—shuffling ain’t always easy).
Lastly, about valuing teamwork (hey! another vague platitude), Satell clarifies with this:
… 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. The problems we face today are far too complex to be solved by a lone genius working in isolation. That’s why the best innovators tend to be knowledge brokers, who embed themselves into networks so that they can access that one elusive piece of insight that can crack a tough problem.
For additional thoughts, you can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2018/02/4-ways-to-build-an-innovative-team