How To Build Your Innovation Team

Your team should be the people who want to be there.

There is no innovation without a strong team. Every great idea had a string of brilliant minds behind it, from those who design the concept to those who execute it. So how do you build the best possible innovation team?

Get Volunteers, Not Appointees

To start, you need people who want to be there. One of the frequent criticisms of innovation teams is that they’re often just another committee. For many members, it’s just another meeting on their calendar, another obligation to get through at work. That’s not an environment that’s conducive to true innovation.

Instead, look for people who are inspired and passionate about their ideas. The people who regularly contribute to the suggestion box, the people who stay late to fiddle with ideas, the people who come to you or their supervisor with suggestions from customers and ideas on how to get them working—these are the people you want on your team. Find them, and give them room to grow.

Look for Stakeholders

The reality of innovation is that it will have an impact all up and down your company, and the grander the idea, the larger the impact. You want to ensure that impact is positive for everyone. And you also want to keep an eye out for one of the key side effects of innovation: Unintended consequences. Nobody realized what Facebook would become when the website went online more than a decade ago, and it’s had both positive results and negative ones. Obviously, the goal is to maximize the former and minimize the latter as much as possible.

So, find people who know the aspects of your business, or at the very least, people your team can come to for answers to their questions. That will help them refine ideas and build better innovations.

Have a Clear Vision

The concept of innovation is a giant umbrella. You can innovate by, say, adding a sensor or making the code in your product more compact. Or you can innovate by inventing something that solves a problem and yet also creates an entirely new one. Innovation is a vast, rushing river of energy, and if you don’t properly channel it, it’ll just flood everywhere.

So, create a vision for your team to follow. This doesn’t have to be extremely specific; it just needs to be something concrete on the horizon. It can be as simple as “Think of ways to make our product more useful to each segment of our customer base” and just give the team the latitude to come up with whatever it takes.

Talk to Customers and Partners

Finally, your team should have the door open for customers and partners to weigh in. Often, some of the best ideas in any industry come from a customer who asks for a feature or a partner who comes to you with a need to fill. Remember, as we said, the law of unintended consequences. Sometimes what seems a small move that will please only a handful of people will turn out to fill a need nobody anticipated.

Ready to build your team? Contact us now to create a strong foundation!

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