• Daniel Marti

We all have amazing ideas... at the end it's all about the team bringing those ideas to life.

Innovation is the key to standing out amongst your competition in any industry. It is the ultimate ingredient for immense growth and success. And in times of covid-19 innovation is the only possibility to adapt to a changing world.

While it is possible for a single individual to have an innovative idea, you need a team of people with different perspectives, skills, passions, values and networks to bring this idea to life.

To assemble the perfect team you have to look for these perfect characteristics.

0. Vision

Whatever you do, whatever you try to achieve, there has to be a shared vision. Without knowing where to to there is actually no reason to set off.

What we usually do is defining where we want to be in one year, five years and ten years. We write it down in a SMART way while using our own words. And the most important thing, we really try to act upon.

1. The perfect size

Let's go on with an easy one.

When working together in larger groups, you will receive more ideas and perspectives. However, it will also make the decision making process more challenging and tiring. Getting the larger groups to agree on the same idea is difficult and takes more time than required. To ensure efficient and quick decision making, your innovation team must be small. According to a study by Alpha, nine out of ten decision-makers believe that when a team has no more than 5 people in it, they work more smoothly and efficiently. In larger groups, problems like ego clashes are also higher. People are also likely to get easily distracted and stray away from the task at hand.

We at beyon think:

You need a team that is small enough to feed with one american pizza, any more people and decision making will convert into debates.

2. Diversity Of Perspectives

Most managers end up selecting employees that seem youthful, creative, and alike in their innovation teams. While such teams may come up with innovative ideas, their thought processes are likely to be constricted to a particular field. To ensure that every member brings something unique to the team, they need to have diverse perspectives. Diversity in the background, age, experience, values, personality, the field of work, and thinking can help bringing that idea on the next level.

And just remember, a selection of white beards does not count as diversity...

3. Passion

The only way you bring a product or service to success is if you have really passionate team members who are able to share that passion.

For us at beyon there are clear indications, whether we are working on a passion project or not:

- We think and talk a lot about them,

- Our friends and family know about them (If we are allowed to share :-))

- The projects are making progress

- We want to be part of them not as a consultant but as a member

- We help to daydream about the glorious future of them

- We come up with new and additional ideas every second minute

And in contrast. The non-passion project which we are trying to reduce:

- We always talk about money, earnings, rates, costs, and people

- Difficulties are all around

- We have to block time in the calendars to work on them

- We procrastinate to the very last second

- It is difficult to find people to work on the project, even if they are paid right

- We tend to schedule meetings to the next week, because we are unbelievably busy

- We never share anything with the world, also if we are allowed to

But what about those non-passionate-things like accounting, HR or IT maintenance, they have to be done as well right? Everyone is a genius somewhere. Now get that genius to do that for you...

4. Shared Values

While diversity is essential, without shared values the team will not be able to combine their ideas and create an innovative solution.

Value based product development is still something a bit outlandish but for us it is the only way to be successful in that field.

Actually values became such a big part of my consulting life that I co-founded a company, specializing in that field. It is value-me.org.With value-me you can find your core values or the core values of your partnership, family or team. Try it out it is just amazing to know your values.

5. Empathy

You were waiting for that one, right? It's the one everyone is talking about. Empathy towards your teammates, empathy in your leadership role, empathy with your customer... it's the holy grail.... and you know what. it also should be.

The innovation process of Design Thinking really helps us to give empathy the place it deserves.

By the way, Covid-19 is the perfect starting point for a more empathic workstyle. Call up your customer and ask her or him what they like or don't like about your product. Ask them what it would take that they would recommend it to a good friend and ask them whether they are willing to be part of your product development squad, which beta-tests your new improvements.

6. Psychological Safety

There is no added value having a super diverse, value based and passionate team if no one dares to speak up and make mistake. So members of a teem must feel equal, safe, free, comfortable authentic and happy.

How to foster psychological safety? Find good, human, creative, fun, happy, authentic, empathic, self aware, refleccted people to work with and get rid of the others. If you are interested in the topic of assholes and non-assholes, this book is a must read!

7. Focus

This one is still absolutely critical. The banabread-spread during the Covid-19 outbreak showed us that there are other topics in the world than work. Keep your team focused on the job ahead. Use ideas from methodologies like agile to keep the pace high.

- Divide your work into little pieces (The how to eat an elephant thing)

- Meet your team twice a day, remotely

- Use a kanban board

- Let people talk about issues

- Facilitate a open and honest culture

- Celebrate success

- Be nice

And yes, there has to be some pressure in the tank, otherwise nothing is happening even if you are a purpose and value driven and diverse team passionately working on a shared vision.

It is a bit like coffee. French press and pour-overs produce decent results but it's the 9 bar of pressure from a espresso machine which extract all the amazingness of a great coffee.

Our favourite coffe machine in the world
Lelit MaraX

What did we miss? Please comment below!

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