Last Thursday, the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) sponsored a webinar on Retaining Expert Knowledge: What to Keep in an Age of Information Overload about building a crack innovation team by blending Traditional and NextGen experts. We unpacked how to build a winning innovation team, and I wanted to share a bit of it here with you.
First, let’s define traditional and nextgen experts.
Traditional experts are the employees who have been around awhile. They know your business, your products and processes, your industry and their area of specialty – all extremely well.
NextGen experts are the brilliant new minds that you hire who are wired for success in the age of exploding information. Their expertise forms a foundation for them to bring skills to your team that help you navigate the world of information. NextGen experts know what to look for, where to find it, and how to leverage open source knowledge to build the next great thing.
That blend of traditional and next generation expertise is your secret weapon when you are building an intentional innovative team.
Intentional vs Accidental Innovative Teams
As we look at the definition of intentional teams, we see that there is a lot of thought and choice that goes into determining who will build your next breakthrough product or process. You will ask yourself questions like:
Who has done something like this before?
Who knows where the market is likely to go?
What are our customers thinking?
What are the limitations of the current technology?
What are the unexplored edges of this technology?
Have we tried something similar and failed, and if so, why?
Why isn’t this being done elsewhere right now?
Where are the landmines?
And on, and on…
Your intentional, innovative teams are agile and versatile. They are unlikely to have all the answers you need, but they will know where to find them. They will look up and down your organization for the right people who will know not only the limits and promise of the technology but will know the mindset of the customers and the peculiarities you might face as you develop something new.
Your intentional teams are inclusive. Who is in your organization who needs to be considered? Are there cultural or physical considerations of your employees or your customers? Is your intended product or process accessible for low vision and low hearing individuals and mobility-impaired? Will someone in another culture understand your frame of reference and intent? Will the socioeconomic status of your employees or intended market limit or expand the possibilities of the features and benefits of your proposed solution? (Hat tip to SEI’s Inclusive Design panel discussion on October 17 in Oaks, PA. Thank you!)
If your innovative teams are not intentional, they are accidental. Accidental teams may make judgments without information. They include people who aren’t interested or who don’t know where to find the answers. Accidental teams are comprised of people who are available at the time to work on the project.
Do you assemble intentional or accidental teams to build your products and develop your processes?
NOTE: You can join ITMPI at no cost to access live webinars. Premium and corporate membership plans are available for recordings and PDU/CDU credit.