Today's organizations face change like never before. A rapidly
expanding marketplace, increasing competition, diversity among
consumers, and new technology are among the driving forces of
Creativity and innovation often is key to success, particularly
when designing and delivering new processes, products, or services.
Unfortunately most organizations can't seem to harness the
relationship between creativity and innovation, therefore missing
the opportunity for a competitive advantage during a time of
Most people don't understand the difference between creativity and
innovation. For our purposes, creativity is the process of
generating new ideas and concepts while innovation is the
implementation of those ideas and concepts.
People working alone or together can come up with several great
ideas to address problems, but then what? The real issue is not
about how to generate new ideas, but how to implement good ideas
Right Roles for the Right People
According to Ron Beegle, executive vice president of GAP, in a
Fast Company interview, "It's simple: have dreamers and
have planners who can take the dream and put together a plan, and
then have executors who can make that plan a reality. And let all
of those people interact and work very closely together."
This means providing team members with self-awareness of how they
think and behave when working with a group, allowing each person to
value their own contributions and the contributions of others. One
way to do this is to clarify individual roles, which simplifies the
innovation process while maximizing performance. Inscape
Publishing's Team Dimensions Profile identifies four key roles for
successful team innovation.
Creators generate the concepts and ideas. They
reframe problems to achieve breakthrough solutions, moving in a new
direction by examining possibilities without regard to risk.
Advancers recognize the value of new ideas and
directions in their early stages and develop the means to promote
or move them forward. They use insightful planning based on past
experiences and successful methods.
Refiners make sure the concept is carefully
reviewed and examine how it can be improved and implemented.
Refiners usually create order from chaos by playing devil's
advocate to test the soundness of an idea.
Executors follow up on team objectives and
implement ideas and solutions. They focus on ensuring the
implementation process proceeds in an orderly manner and strive for
high-quality outcomes. Executors prefer to let others lead and
enjoy the task and responsibility of final implementation.
To be truly effective in the innovation process, a team must
include a variety of individuals who are comfortable in each of the
four roles. Individuals must know when to play their roles and then
allow the team focus to shift to the next person who is comfortable
in performing the next role in the innovation process
In other words, do what you do best and hand off the rest.
Capitalize on Team Innovation
One of the most formidable challenges facing organizations today is
the effective use of existing talent. Intuitively, we know that the
capacity and capability are present, but figuring out the
components is frustrating and time consuming. Why stay frustrated?
Take the time and determine who does what work best, putting the
right person in the right place at the right time.
This will allow you to approach problems from the perspective of
who can solve them versus gathering random teams who waste time and
create no action plan. When team members understand their roles and
the roles of others in the innovation process, the results are
- reduced stress and conflict
- increased trust and mutual respect
- maximized innovation and problem-solving.
Team innovation allows an organizations to use existing talent for
creativity and a pathway to implementation that is quicker and
easier than just relying on creativity alone. So what could your
organization accomplish if team innovation was your competitive