Want to build more innovative products and services? Innovate the way that you work

Innovation is not just for products and services. The best teams also find innovative ways of working together to support them in producing game-changing work.

There are many great examples of collaboration techniques and rituals that successful companies have used to support an innovative culture – Pixar’s Braintrusts, Etsy’s Blameless Post-Mortems, Amazon’s Two Pizza Rule, Google’s secrets for effective brainstorming to name just a few. It’s tempting to want to copy these ideas, but these final versions may only be part of the story. These ways of working may have come about through a process of trying and tweaking that is specific to the company, their people and their environment. You can certainly try them, but it’s likely that they’ll need to be adapted for your context. 

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Motivate and re-focus your team with this 2-hour workshop

How often does your team get a chance to look at the bigger picture together? It’s likely that you’re often all so busy delivering work, meeting deadlines and handling customer needs, it’s a challenge to find the time to step back and take a look at the overall direction you’re going.

A strategic discussion with your team can be valuable in many ways, providing the time and space to learn from each other, share ideas, and reconnect with your team’s purpose – a great way to improve motivation.

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How to kickoff your team project: what research says [and template]

In this post, I’ll explore some of what the research says about creating great teams, and what you should include in your project kickoff as a result. At the end of the post you can download a PDF template for you to plan your next session.

If the future of work is about small, multidisciplinary and temporary teams (sometimes called The Hollywood Model) then knowing how to launch projects in the right way will be even more important. This way of working will require teams to align quickly and spring into action. The need for highly effective project kickoffs has never been greater.

Luckily, there’s increasing amounts of research available about what makes a great, creative and productive team, and you can use this to structure a successful kickoff session. It’s all about tapping into the expertise of the team and creating a good plan for how you’re going to work together.

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The value of visual frameworks in workshops

When you’re in the process of designing a workshop, you’ll be thinking about the right questions to ask your participants. This is more than just sitting around a table and going through the questions one by one – it’s also about the way that you ask them, and the activity that you craft around the questions to encourage participants to think differently. There are ways to design the workshop experience to make it much more interactive and engaging.

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A checklist for creative management: from theory to practice

For years, academics and practitioners alike have been exploring the best way to ‘manage creativity’.  The two words in themselves seem like opposites– by its very nature creativity is chaotic, whereas management strives for order and efficiency (I first wrote about this in two posts a few months ago – The Messiness of Creativity and Working with Creative Chaos).  Finding a balance between the two can be tricky.

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Getting stuff done: workflow for creative teams

For the fourth post in the “Doing, not talking” series, I’m looking the “doing” during a project – developing a workflow so that a creative team can concentrate on what they do best.

An online search for the word “workflow” is not particularly inspiring – returning a lot of technical-looking and process-heavy results. But considering workflow for a new creative team is useful for effective collaboration, it just needs a lighter and more flexible approach.

I look at workflow as a way to help a team progress as productively as possible through a project (not necessarily as ‘smoothly as possible’ as it’s those bumps and roadblocks and messiness that often leads to great ideas). The aim is not to squeeze creativity out, but to make more space for it, by ensuring that team members are kept up-to-date, can find the information they need easily and are well-supported.

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What’s your problem? – a briefing template

For this month’s theme of “Doing, not talking”, I’m providing practical methods and tools for supporting collaboration.

In an earlier post, I gave some insight into my process for building a top creative team. But before you start your search for talent, one of the most important things you can do is to produce an effective brief.  This will help you to identify the actual skills and expertise you need to look for.

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Start with the individual: the personal audit

This month, I’m looking at “Doing, not talking” and providing some practical tools that can be used to help teams work better together.

PersonalAuditSince collaboration starts with the individual, for this first post I’m trying out the personal audit – a tool to be used by team members to review their own position before the collaboration starts.  The intention is for it to be useful for team members that are approaching a project from separate businesses (or different departments within an organisation) to help the team find common ground.

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Doing, not talking

Throughout May and June, the theme is: Doing, not talking.

Image: _sarchi cc

Last month, I was at the Business Design Summit in Berlin. The two-day event brought together 11 leading authors and business experts, plus practitioners, to share their latest tools for strategy and innovation. And it demonstrated that the best way, by far, to encourage people to work better together is to do things that help them work better together.

From the event website:

 “Whether building new businesses or re-inventing existing ones, all leaders need practical strategies to navigate today’s ruthless business environment. You need tools, not talk.”

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