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Innovation Teams Don’t Innovate

In last month’s blog, we reinforced and validated the importance and role of collaboration, and described the range of emerging new, inspirational, and adaptive models that lean into complexity and catalyse and embed sustainable innovative workplace culture change. Where some organisations, like Alibaba, Disney, Google, Salesforce, and GE, developed their future fitness by courageously investing in catalysing, igniting, and leading change through innovation teams.

Innovation teams are teams that don’t innovate!

Conventional team collaboration performance and development approaches are still relevant and foundational to long-term organisational success.  And, a new range of organisational needs is emerging in our fast-changing and disruptive world, that complement conventional team development processes including the importance of:

  • Providing a unified and holistic and systemic “collective mind” focussed on adding value to customers,
  • Being agile, focused, and in charge to make faster decisions,
  • Sharing resources and insights to reduce costs,
  • Working interdependencies to improve efficiencies and productivity,
  • Shifting focus from being competitive towards co-creating ecosystems to solve bigger, more complex problems, to lead, embed, and sustain value-adding change in a disruptive world.

According to the authors of Eat, Sleep Innovate, an innovation team is formed to develop “something different that creates value” and do this best in a culture where such behaviours come naturally.

These behaviours include:

  • Curiosity
  • Customer obsession
  • Adeptness to ambiguity
  • Collaboration
  • Empowerment
  • Accountability

Purpose of innovation teams

The purpose of an innovation team is to create an environment that unlocks an organisations collective intelligence (capacity, competence, and confidence) and builds the capability to change as fast as change itself. Usually, through providing mentorship, coaching, and learning process in ways that align, engage, enable, equip and leverage peoples’ collective intelligence to:

  • Adapt to higher levels of ambiguity and uncertainty,
  • Challenge the status quo and help break conventional business as usual habits, leadership styles, and comfortable ways of working,
  • Provoke future “fast forward” (horizon three) thinking,
  • Support the implementation of digital and organisational transformational efforts,
  • Collectively and collaboratively drive innovation across organisations pragmatically and make it a reality,
  • Leverage synergies across ecosystems to solve complex problems and deliver increased value to customers.

Ultimately, to provoke and evoke future “fast forward” creative discoveries and experiment with new platforms and possible future business models to help guide future renewal and reinventions and develop future fitness. Delivering these, as smart and multi-disciplinary teams in ways that are timely, agile, and disciplined that potentially support and bring significant value to customers, the market, and to the organisation.

Unconventional stretch collaboration requires connection, cognitive dissonance, and conflict.

Experimenting with, iterating, and adapting new collaborative models, enables organisations and their leaders, to shift their focus – from being defensively competitive towards being creatively constructive.

Where the goal is to create a high performing, connected, and networked workplace culture where people:

  • Have the time and space to deeply connect, collaborate, and co-create value,
  • Maximise differences and diversity of thought,
  • Generate the urgency and creative energy to innovate,
  • Feel safe and have permission to freely share ideas, wisdom, knowledge, information, resources, and perspectives.

Innovation teams create discord and generate conflict.

At ImagineNation™ we have found that the best way for innovation teams to perform is through building safety and trust, whilst simultaneously being safely provocative and evocative in creating discord and conflict to disrupt people’s conventional thought processes, behaviours, and habits. To engage people in maximising differences and diversity to generate creative ideas, and experiment with inventive prototypes, that ultimately solve big and complex problems and deliver commercially astute, innovative solutions. By connecting, networking, and focussing on co-creation and emphasizing collaboration, inclusion, and mutual accountability, and not on being competitive.

Dealing with the organisational blockers – Innovation teams.

At ImagineNation™ our experience has enabled us to understand and reduce the range of key common blockers to transformational and innovation-led change initiatives. Where we support clients identify, and resolve and remove them by enabling and equipping innovation teams to:

  • Develop agile and innovation mindsets: building capability in safely exposing and disrupting rigid mindsets through customised mindset shifting, behavioural based, skills development programs, and reflective tools.
  • Understand the impact of the organisation’s collective mindset: supporting teams to develop an empathic understanding of one another, then shifting how they feel and think to act differently, and cultivate the discomfort resilience when facing the challenges and failures in the innovation rollercoaster ride.
  • Enable leadership development: through educating, mentoring, and coaching leaders to grow their adaptive, collaborative, engaging, and innovative team leadership and membership capabilities.
  • Foster the development of an adaptive and innovative culture: by applying cultural assessment and diagnostic processes that result in pragmatic culture change initiatives.
  • Ensure strategic alignment: sensing, perceiving, and developing a mutual focus, common language and understanding, and a collaborative networked way of working, that bridges the gap between the current and desired states.

Setting up an innovation team – the critical success factors.

At ImagineNation™ we have also helped our clients identify, and embed the critical success factors, that enable innovation teams to drive and embed innovation-led change and transformational initiatives by ensuring:

  • Alignment to the mission, vision, purpose, values.
  • Strategic allocation of resources.
  • Leadership team sponsorship and mentorship.
  • Investment in team members and leader’s capability development.
  • Thinking big and focussing on clarifying and delivering future “fast forward” far-reaching solutions to highly impactful challenges.
  • Organisation engagement and enrolment in implementing changes and creating, inventing, and delivering innovative solutions.
  • Lines of sight to stakeholders, eco-system players, and customers, taking an empathic value-adding perspective at all times.

Innovation teams – an unfreezing opportunity to co-create future-fitness.

Embracing this type of collaborative approach creates an unprecedented opportunity for organisations, which have been upended as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, to develop a sense of urgency toward unfreezing and eliminating their corporate antibodies.

Empathising with the range of challenges leaders are facing right now, where many are slowly waking up to a post-covid world, where there is an unprecedented and urgent opportunity to co-create a “new normal” that is well-designed to lift any of the emotional barriers to teamwork, locked-down relationships and online fatigue.

Opening the door to a new kind of co-creative, collaborative and cohesive team spirit that allows and encourages people to re-imagine, re-learn, reinvent and co-create new, fresh future fit, adaptive and innovative, people and customer-centric systems, structures, business models, and ecosystems.

All of which are mandatory for delivering future fitness by applying the collaborative and collective intelligence required for increasing value in innovative ways that people and customers appreciate and cherish, in ways we have not previously imagined, that connect with and contribute to, the good of the whole.

Janet Sernackhttps://www.imaginenation.com.au/
JANET loves change, as it creates opportunities for growth and development, as well as unexpected, deviant, imaginative and creative responses. She is passionate about creating and delivering innovative learning, coaching and consulting programs to coaches, leaders and organizations. Janet has gained her consulting, education, facilitation, training and executive coaching skills, from over 30 years of experience in the consulting; manufacturing and retailing; learning and development businesses in Australasia and Israel. She has personally experienced challenging career and lifestyle changes; which have provided her with a serious amount of chutzpah and resilience, and a wide breadth of knowledge, skills and experience: She has a fresh and pragmatic perspective towards corporate learning that is holistic and systemic.

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