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How To Innovate As A Team

How To Innovate As A Team

Innovation has become a crucial part of the workplace. Although it's commonly associated with technologists and those working in the science field, innovating as a team is crucial to any successful workplace.

According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft registered over 200 million participants in virtual meetings through Microsoft Teams in just 24 hours. A sign of how fast innovation is influencing how we collaborate and interact.

But innovation isn’t just limited to team meetings. Optic fiber WiFi connections, 5G and advanced systems are changing how teams collaborate in industries worldwide, including retail, aerospace, assembly, healthcare, finance, and automotive.

In the last six months, markets worldwide have also experienced a shift due to artificial intelligence (AI). Platforms like Google Bard and Chat GPT are becoming an important part of the decision process and are being used to create writing drafts, conduct research and even write proposals. Given that AI received an investment of $165 billion in 20221, the technology is only going to become more influential.

As a result, teams will need to pioneer these developments by taking a discovery-driven approach to how they work.

What Makes An Innovator?

Research by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen on leaders found a particular set of traits among senior executives in the most innovative organizations. They discovered that executives ranked in the 86th percentile among discovery-driven skills (questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associating) and the 56th percentile of delivery-driven skills (analyzing, planning, detail-oriented implementing, and self-disciplined executing). In less innovative organizations, executives scored 62nd among discovery skills and 80th for delivery-driven skills.

This data shows that leaders throughout innovative organizations tend to have more discovery-driven skills than those in less innovative businesses. As a result, creating a discovery-driven approach throughout the workplace could be the secret to innovative as a team. Here’s how the five skills of a discovery-driven leader can help a team to innovate.

1) Questioning

As a leader, questioning allows an individual to expand not just their own thinking but the thinking of their team too. Brainstorming a range of questions and not just answers can help to accelerate innovation by exploring new ideas and solutions that nobody would have otherwise thought of.

2) Observing

Observation is a crucial part of the innovation process. Team members and leaders can observe customers, suppliers, and stakeholders to generate new ideas. These ideas often occur when observing behaviour, communication systems, anomalies, styles, problems, and workarounds.

3) Networking

Connecting with new people opens up a plethora of new perspectives. This is particularly the case when networking with people who an individual wouldn’t normally meet. Discovery-driven leaders are great at connecting their teams with people who have different skill sets to explore new ideas.

4) Experimenting

Innovative leaders provide teams with new experiences that let them dissect, disassemble and pilot-test solutions. This helps them to reflect on what they’ve learned and increases divergent thinking.

5) Associating

Associating is the process in which a team actively looks for something that already exists and could be practical in their niche but isn’t already used. In the Berkman report, this is described as a continuous “treasure hunt”, in which teams look for technology used in another industry to make odd combinations and generate innovative solutions.

The Importance Of Diversity In Perspectives

Diversity within a team can have a significant impact on its ability to innovate. This diversity can range across a number of factors, including experiences, behaviors, country of origin, culture, or upbringing. By leveraging these factors, teams can discover new innovations and solutions that could have otherwise been missed.

How To Start Building An Innovative Team

According to the Birkman report, the first step in building an innovative team is to introduce your team to new networks. For example, introducing a team of engineers in the oil and gas industry to a team of artists from a nonprofit organization. Alternatively, introducing magazine advertisers to a team of manufacturing cost accountants. During this introduction, individuals can learn about each other's work, the strategies they use to be successful, and the common issues they encounter.

The secret to success here is curiosity. Individuals should explore ideas they’ve never heard of, learn from new perspectives and see where any solutions could be implemented into their own work. After the initial networking session, a team can pool together the different lessons they’ve learned and explore how they can be applied to any issues they currently face. In most circumstances, solutions will cross over more than first believed.

The second step in this process is to consider a prize challenge that utilizes different areas of the business. For example, NASA uses the TechLeap Prize to incentivize innovation and build an ecosystem of innovation. As part of this process, teams throughout the business can volunteer ideas and experiences to solve a particular issue. This naturally attracts creative individuals and allows for cross-team collaboration.


As technology continues to influence workplaces worldwide, the demand for innovation and innovative teams is going to grow. Teams that are discovery-driven and leverage different perspectives will have a significant advantage and will help pioneer businesses to new highs. On the other hand, teams that fail to innovate are expected to fall behind the competition, which could eventually impact the profitability of a business.

This makes investing in innovation, engaging in team activities and networking with different teams more important than ever. Businesses should be actively allocating time to innovation in order to remain competitive.

For more information please send a message via the Contact Us Page. Or you can register for an upcoming webinar.

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