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Four ways to build an innovative team

Innovative teams mean getting the right combination of people with energy, dynamism and know-how, as well as full of ideas. In other words, every business and organisation are looking for the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. And there’s no reason why the world is not full of young(er) Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The truth is, you may already have these people in your organisation. You just need to build an innovative team to help everyone reach their full potential.

The key to building innovative teams is a mix of trust and enhanced learning, as well as new ways of doing this. From discovering the benefits of agile thinking to following key principles and developing values, creating innovative teams is in no way a simple task or something that is quickly done.

It takes time, commitment and investment but, it can be done.

How to build an innovative team:


You want to produce the best range of products that answer consumer needs now and in the future – great! Now bring it down to brass tacks: what is it that you really need from people.

But here’s the difficulty – you need to find people who are intrinsically motivated to solve problems and bring ideas. Creativity, after all, is not just about coming up with weird or quirky ideas, it is about understanding how to solve problems and create something of value.

We’ve all read the stories – managers in a position that although well-liked by co-workers and customers are not delivering the ‘innovation’ that a company needs. Recognising this, they are side-lined, or they leave.

And then, out of the blue, they become a successful entrepreneur. With a flourishing business, there is the question to answer, why didn’t this happen when they worked for us?

The truth is intrinsic motivation is the key. In other words, hire people whose ‘hearts are in it’ and who don’t just want to pick up the pay cheque.


There is evidence to show that a ‘no-blame culture’ is key to effective, innovative and successful teams.

But this is easier said than done because what we don’t realise is that some comments not intended to blame do actually single people out.

Google has presented perhaps the most recent findings that support this notion of a no-blame team environment. Creating algorithms to make sense of complex data, you would assume that Google would have ‘what makes an innovative team?’ in the bag.

They analysed everything, from how frequently teams socialised outside of the work environment to every other conceivable aspect of teamwork. They found nothing that would give a definite answer to where innovation lies except that is, a psychologically safe environment.

In other words, the success of a team doesn’t rely on whether they socialise or not, but whether they are safe to speak, make mistakes and so on, without being belittled, singled out and so on.

And they found something else interesting too – where there was a collaborative conversation that was not dominated by one or two people, the teams were more successful and connected.


Many companies manage with a specific ‘type’ in mind and usually, this is people who mirror our current workforce or ourselves.

Creating camaraderie and comfort, it is not conducive to creating an environment where problems are solved. Don’t forget, the benefits of agile thinking are many and varied but they all come back to one thing: the team.

There are a plethora of studies that all point in a similar direction – a diverse team tends to be smarter, more creative and examine the facts more thoroughly.

Instead of looking for comfort, look to create a team where comfort and ideas are challenged, where solutions are challenged, created and developed too. The only way to really achieve this within a dynamic, innovative team is to have people who see, think and talk differently.

There is always a question of balance because it may be that in this environment reeking of diversity and dynamism that some people don’t feel psychologically safe, the concept discussed earlier.


The problems a business faces are too challenging, complex and big to be solved by one person. The team is the tool that can deal with such problems and issues.

You need people who are capable of doing all kinds of different things, people with different qualifications, some without qualifications but who have a natural insight. You need people who see like you do but you also need people who see something different.

All these people need bringing together to churn out ideas but without holding someone else back or damaging a business.


With a flexible but cohesive approach, you will reap the benefits of agile thinking within an innovative team. It is about the individual, their knowledge level but also the environment that is created to allow the team to innovate.

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