Pleased with your current team’s ability to innovate and work together? Perfect! Now, it’s time to take a proactive approach to maintain their bond, creativity, and curiosity. Keeping innovation alive requires a mix of ongoing team building and group and individual skills building. Below are a few options to explore.
Create or Revise Your Team Values
Just like your organization has a mission statement, vision, or core values, your teams should too. If not all three, whichever resonates with the group. Let them decide.
Their signature statement should be aligned with the organization’s, but unique to the team, or unique to each project they are working on. Or unlike the organization’s, a constantly evolving statement that you empower the team to revise annually.
While there should be some serious elements in your team statements, they can also have some fun aspects that speak to the team dynamic. The team can share their signature statement internally or externally, but that isn’t the objective.
Team or Project Name
You may manage the same group of people ongoing or create unique teams for different projects. You may even have team members who work on different teams and projects. To promote ownership and keep things fun, encourage each group to create a team name, and then name each of their projects.
Most teams and projects have generic names. For example, the name of the client you are working for. Or the name of the product or service you are working on. While relevant, these generic names aren’t innovative.
So, set aside some time at the creation of each team and at the beginning of each project to brainstorm new names. Feel free to revise the name as the team or project evolves.
Facilitate Group Discussions
In addition to your daily, weekly, and ongoing meetings, facilitate quarterly group discussions. Mix things up and explore a wide range of thought-provoking topics. Include ongoing industry advances, but don’t limit the discussions to your industry.
Have the entire team watch or read the selected content, either together or as a group. Consider having the team select the content they will discuss. Then, set aside at least an hour for discussion. The discussion can be open, guided, or centered around a list of questions. The questions can be created by the facilitator or submitted by the group ahead of time.
There may not be a particular end goal, other than providing time and space to foster curiosity.
A few options to consider include:
- Personal and professional development books, articles, or reports.
- Thought-provoking fictional or non-fiction books and short stories.
- One or more TED Talks on a similar theme, including conflicting concepts.
- Watching movies, TV shows, or documentaries to spark innovation.
Team Building Activities
Team building is nothing new, but the new range of options is impressive. Feel free to explore activities you can facilitate in-house, but consider bringing in an outside team—or heading out of the office. With the increase in remote teams, you can also choose from a variety of remote team building activities.
Center these activities around a team or small group task or challenge. Most tasks or challenges will be unrelated to your industry, but you might be able to find challenges that relate. For example, a virtual game or trivia session that includes questions related to your company history, industry history, industry innovators, new advances, and other fun facts.
Just don’t make industry relevance a priority, as exploration is an essential factor in sparking and maintaining innovation. That is unless the team building activity doubles as confirming the retention of new information.
Celebratory Activities and Events
Celebratory activities can double as team building events, but are designed more for fun. This should include opportunities to connect personally and celebrate personal milestones.
A few ideas include the following. These can be team or company-wide:
- After-hours meetings
- Birthday cakes at work
- Annual awards
- End-of-year parties
- Company anniversary
- Staff anniversary
- Project completion celebration
Optimizing core skills and learning new skills contribute to innovation and provide a variety of positive benefits. While solo training is on the rise, don’t eliminate team training. Even if you invest less time and resources in team training, it can still be part of the mix.
This includes any combination of:
- Live or virtual skills training led by internal or external facilitators.
- Internal and external annual conferences and recurrent training.
- Group training on new technologies, tools, products, or services.
- Fully customized team training, classes, or speaking events.
- Strategic and company-wide training and speaking events.
Individual Skills Building
With the growing catalog of online, VR, and AR training it’s never been more convenient or cost-effective to train your employees.
Unlike company-wide and team training, consider providing your team with access to optional and at-their-own pace courses. Or reimbursing them for a pre-approved training and education course.
Again, don’t limit approval to general skills or industry training, as exploration is part of the objective. This will demonstrate that you value their development, but it will let them learn about the areas they are most curious about.
That being said, continue to assign some of their training with the objective of filling a personal, team, or internal skills gap.
There is a healthy manner to facilitate competition. Or if you prefer, think of it as more of an A/B split test.
The concept is allowing two or more teams (local, nationwide, or global) to create a product, service, or solution. Assign the parameters, then let them innovate. You designate a point in time when you assess each team’s solution and move forward with one or more.
Also consider that some solutions may work better in different regions, offices, or consumer markets.
Need Help Narrowing Down Which Innovations to Move Forward With?
As always, trust your team as they are your most valuable resource. If you are looking for a partner to help you and your team strategize along the way, we invite you to consider Idea Scale. We can provide innovation maturity assessments and a variety of innovation accelerators, contact us.