Aug. 16, 2018

Building competent teams to drive innovation

Innovation isn’t easy. Establishing the framework for your corporate innovation unit is the first step in the process, but how can you ensure its success from there? At LEO Science & Tech Hub, we believe you are only as good as the team around you. We believe that one of the foundations for driving innovation […]

Innovation isn’t easy. Establishing the framework for your corporate innovation unit is the first step in the process, but how can you ensure its success from there?

At LEO Science & Tech Hub, we believe you are only as good as the team around you. We believe that one of the foundations for driving innovation in any organization is competent teams but lately we have been asked again and again “how do we hire or find innovative individuals?”. Here are some insights from us on how to build a team that can solve complex problems, challenge the status-quo and drive innovation forward:

  1. Environment sets the tone and creates the culture:

Innovation is a mindset – it is a way of thinking and behaving. We do not hire innovative employees, we bring talented and committed individuals into an innovative environment. We maintain this environment by consistently reinforcing our mission and encouraging an experimental culture that values every team member’s ideas and input.

It’s important to set the stage for this type of workplace by developing infrastructure and best practices that are in line with your vision and that support the culture you want to create and foster. This objective provides a platform that will help enable innovative performance from your team on a day-to-day basis and over the long term rather than it just being a buzzword.

  1. Diverse teams solve problems:

The more diverse your team, the better. This is true especially when thinking about the goal of driving innovative projects forward. A team that consists of subject matter experts across a broad range of fields brings balance and versatility to your group, which will make you more prepared to address different challenges as they arise. Some team members may be market experts, while others are researchers, engineers, strategists, etc. Some may be analytically-minded while others are creative thinkers. Acknowledge these differences and more importantly, capitalize on the ways in which they can complement each other. Promote the internal exchange of knowledge, perspectives and networks.  Lean on certain personnel when their skill set aligns closely with a specific project. This type of synergy amongst a diverse group can help each individual form new connections and can ultimately trigger new ideas.

  1. Team dynamics:

Capabilities and team dynamics go hand in hand. The capabilities of the team members affect how the team addresses problems and identifies solutions, thus creating a unique team dynamic. Changing a team member changes the team dynamics and hence recreating the dynamics is essential to driving innovation.

Our team functions like a commando-like team where we are able to support and move forward even if one of the team members is absent or leaves the team. Teams need to find the right balance for not only having the depth of expertise but also the breadth – they are able to cover a wide range of expertise. It is achieved by building a strong team foundation very early on. This ensures each individual embraces their own capabilities while trusting the capabilities of their teammates and understanding that together they can create successes.

  1. Bigger isn’t always better:

Our team is small, flat and agile with no hierarchy – everyone knows their role. Keeping a team small ensures that communication is always aligned, decisions are made quickly, and priorities are clear and focused on deliverables. Again, everyone’s questions, insights and perspectives are encouraged, which we believe naturally fuels progression and creates trust. The size of our team inspires cooperation, but also gives each member a sense of ownership, autonomy and accountability. Work becomes more meaningful when each individual is able to see the positive impact they can have on the growth of the unit.

Authored by Alex Costa and Michael Sierra.

 

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