Designing your Innovation Dream-Team
Ideas can come from anywhere in schools and organisations, but teams execute the ideas. These teams are a microcosm of the organisation and the proving-ground of its culture. With the right dynamic, one team can change an entire school or organisation and with careful cultivation, the entire organisation can become an innovation machine.
In larger schools and organisations with a greater hierarchical structure, teams are often organised by departments, stages or faculties. These kinds of structures can at times act to resist change and therefore, resist innovation. On the other hand, project-based innovation teams are poised for innovation by virtue and necessity of being cross-functional and silo-smashing.
While some teams will form naturally, building the dream-team specifically for innovation means being intentional about including the right cast of characters.
- The visionary ⇒ This person doesn’t just have lots of ideas, they like to dream big. Visionaries are great in the ideation stage of a project, but might not be so great at honing in on and executing the best ideas.
- The skeptic ⇒ The skeptic need not be a pessimist, just someone who can keep a level head when the visionary is getting the team excited about their big idea. The skeptic asks the hard questions when ideas are being prepared for quality assurance (QA).
- The planner ⇒ This person can map out projects in their mind and thrives on structure. Once the innovation product is cleared for QA, the planner organises all of the moving parts and uses systems to help the team stay on track.
- The doer ⇒ While this person will come with other specific skills and talents, the doer is at his or her best when tasked with solving a seemingly unsolvable problem. In this way this person becomes a linchpin, without which the team might struggle to make sustainable progress.
- The ‘snow-plough’ or, remover of obstacles ⇒ Ideally, this person should be in a leadership position that enables her to champion the project and make sure the team has the resources necessary to execute the project.
In smaller schools and organisations, team members will often have to wear multiple hats. However, the benefit here is that the team gets to know each other well and establish a rhythm of creativity and innovation.
Teams will also want to work with the same people over and over in larger organisations too, or there is a risk that someone might become known as a top performer that everyone wants to work with. The challenge here is to distribute projects so that favoured collaborators don’t become overworked and new collaborators can be discovered, nurtured and challenged.