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The Innovative Team

The Innovative Team

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I’m working my way through my massive book backlog, and doing reviews as a I go along.   Yesterday, I wrote my review of Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

Today, I read and wrote my review of The Innovative Team:  Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results.

It’s perfect timing.  Just yesterday a friend ask me if there’s some science and proven practices that we could apply to create high-performance teams, especially when there is a lot of innovation involved and we need to be more agile in how we execute our projects.

At the same time, we need to give enough time to really explore the problem domain and build some solid foundation to base our solutions on.

The Innovative Team directly addresses this dilemma.  And it does so in a pragmatic way.

It does do by framing out the 4 stages of innovation and the corresponding cognitive style preferences that people tend to have.  The book then shows you how to leverage these different cognitive styles that can often create conflict during the project cycle.  It includes specific proven practices for elaborating on ideas and then converging on solutions and keeping things moving forward.  At the same time, the framework is all about getting the best out of every one on the team and bringing them along.

It’s a recipe for creating and leading high-performance teams that deliver high-impact, innovative solutions for big challenges.

Here is a quick look at some of the things I found especially interesting …

The Four Stages of Innovation:

  1. Clarify the situation
  2. Generate Ideas
  3. Develop Solutions
  4. Implement Plans

The 4 ForeSight Cognitive Styles

Here is a brief summary of each:

  1. Clarifiers – Analyze and clarify the situation
  2. Ideators – Blue sky or big picture thinkers, continuously generate big ideas
  3. Developers – Tirelessly focus on developing and perfecting the solution.
  4. Implementers – Implementing the plan and moving to the next project.

Common Patterns of the 4 Cognitive Styles in Action (+ The Integrator Style)

Here are some common scenarios that you might see, or see yourself in, when working on projects and going through the various stages of innovation:

  1. “For example, if you really like to generate ideas and also feel adept at clarifying the challenges, you are probably full of energy out of the starting gate, identifying and solving issues with ease, coming up with targeted ideas that you feel perfectly (and instantly) solve the problem at hand.  But because you do not devote much energy to later stages in the process, you might find that these solutions ultimately fall short of their mark because they are not properly developed or implemented.”
  2. “What if you really like developing an idea and putting it into action but had no energy for clarifying  the challenge or generating a bunch  of potential options for it?  This would mean that you enjoy the final steps of the process – seeing well-thought-out ideas come to fruition, and watching people welcome and readily adapt to the new solutions thanks to how thoroughly they were developed to fit the situation.  When your ideas have failed, it’s often not the fault of how well they were developed but because they were not well targeted.  They may have solved a problem or met a need, just not the right one.”
  3. “Some people may have nearly equal preference for three of the four stages.  For example, they may like clarifying, ideating, and developing but not implementation.  These people would be comfortable analyzing, coming up with ideas, and tinkering with them toward perfection, but they often can overestimate how much they can get done and you may see them step back when it’s time to put the ideas into action.”
  4. “There are of course many other combinations of types, each with their potential plusses and negatives.  In our story, the character Maya represents of the more common combinations of preferences – the integrator.  She was comfortable with all the stages in the process with no clear preference for one stage or another.  Integrators are indeed a special group.  If you are leading a team and are lucky enough to have an integrator in the mix, you may be able to leverage that person’s abilities strategically to move the team on to the next phase of the process or to act as a mediator between team members of different preferences.”

As you can imagine, this is a powerful books, especially if you do project work.  It’s also powerful even if you just want to improve your own ability to innovate, either as a one-man band, or as part of a larger team, or leading a high-performance team.

If you want a deep dive on the book and more highlights to get a better sense of what this book is all about, check out my review:

The Innovative Team:  Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results.

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