As Amina Elahi points out, writing for the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky section, innovation doesn’t just happen – it’s created.
Leon Segal, an innovation psychologist and the founder of San Francisco-based consultancy Innovationship LLC, tells Elahi that any organisation can create breakthroughs in work and culture with the right methodologies and – crucially – the right cast of characters.
In order to facilitate creative and productive learning, companies must foster the right team dynamics, insists Segal.
For the process of team building, Segal recommends choosing people who are good listeners, enthusiastic about collaboration, and willing to reflect objectively on the progress made by themselves and others.
Reflection is especially important, as it enables people to gauge whether the current methods are effective and whether things could be done better.
In fact, Segal believes companies should schedule an hour every two weeks for formal reflection time, enabling people to make plans and improve processes.
Once a process is in place for understanding and improving methodologies, it’s time to select your innovation team. Segal believes it’s important the team features the following four characters – although some members might fulfil several criteria at once:
1) The decision maker. This member is essential for moving things forward. Segal explains: “You want a decision maker to be part of the process so if you come up with a great idea, you don’t have to start selling it in-house.”
2) The creative thinker. Segal says: “You want someone really creative that everyone knows.” This member contributes their own ideas and empowers others to do likewise.
3) The information broker. This person disseminates information throughout the organisation. Segal advises: “As much as you can, you want the cascading of information to be organic.”
4) The people person. This is someone who is sensitive and has the ability to create empathy both within the group and outside it. Segal believes that empathy drives design thinking.
There is also an optional fifth member – the “domain expert”. This isn’t necessary in every company, but startups especially can benefit from this person. He explains: “Depending on the kind of startup… it could be an engineer or a programmer or a doctor.”