6 Steps to Team Innovation

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Innovation continues to be one of the hottest topics of discussion for employers and business owners. (You may call it disruptive thinking or even design thinking).

So how do you encourage innovation in a team? How do you get them thinking differently in order to find the best or alternative solutions and ideas? Here are six steps to team innovation you may want to consider.

team innovation1. Create Problems

If you want to create an innovative culture, give your team some juicy challenges to solve. Perhaps an ‘issue’ to solve has already presented itself but it won’t hurt to dig deep into your customer complaints. Looking at feedback from both internal customers is an excellent place for teams to innovate.This is where complaints can shine for the gift that they are: an opportunity to improve.

2. Draw Out Your Team’s Intelligence

Each person on your team will have a unique view and understanding of your business. They will also have a unique perspective on how to approach a problem. To get your team to look beyond the obvious you need to get them working together and drawing out each other’s knowledge. Here are some ideas to do that:

  • Break the mould and brainstorm! Let everyone be open to speak freely and share their ideas. Break the mould of the environment, order pizza for lunch, sit around with big sheets of paper, textas, post-its and start talking. In brainstorming, no idea is a bad idea so reward them all.
  • Ask for the opinions and ideas of everyone in your team, and if you can, ask them in the presence of each other. Get them understanding each other’s unique perspective.
  • Encourage team breakouts and match unlikely colleagues in order to draw out each other’s team intelligence. Get your engineers together with the customer service team or match the marketing team with finance or dispatch.

team innovation3. Bring Out Your Leaders

Show trust in your capable employees and the process of innovation by giving them the opportunity to step up. Look beyond the obvious project manager to an employee who is showing interest in the challenge. If you think they would benefit, partner them with a mentor who can guide, but not take over.

4. Definitely, try these 7 approaches to problem solving

We recently wrote about some of our favourite approaches to problem-solving which includes  Edward de Bono’s concept of Six Thinking Hats. De Bono is one of the pioneers of brain training and his methodologies have been proven to help people make smarter decisions, faster. Asking the right questions at the right time is an invaluable tool for design thinking.

The Six Thinking Hats approach is an excellent way to bring out team intelligence because it provides everyone with a secure environment for giving thoughts and expressing feelings.

5. Embrace Failure

How you approach the idea of failure will impact how your team will see it. But you’re not afraid to fail, because, as a leader, you understand that failure is an integral part of problem-solving and innovation – right? So communicate to your team that you are not afraid to fail and help them to understand the brilliant acronym, F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning.  

6. Remember Innovation is a Habit

Innovation is a habit, and like anything we want to succeed at, requires practice. It’s the small daily steps that will move you forward and closer to a workplace with an innovative culture.  A simple daily ritual of asking ‘how can we make this better’ will encourage teams to bring out the best in themselves and each other.

Want to know more about how to bring innovation to your workplace? We have an excellent database of industry articles on innovation. Drop us a line and we’ll send them to you