“The Innovative Team”
by: Chris Grivas & Gerard J. Puccio
The Innovative Team (TIM) is perhaps first and foremost a book on improved communication.
After setting the stage initially, TIM uses a story book form, crafting its message as a short novel, to get it’s points across. Personally, I appreciate business books taking this approach, similar to the late Eliyahu Goldratt.
The Innovative Team makes a valid point. Often, we confuse creativity with innovating. In many cases, innovation is simply being creative in finding solutions to existing problems.
The challenge then is to help our teams be more creative. But something often gets in the way. It can be animosity amongst team players, leaders who don’t appreciate the composition of their team, and/or teams simply being ‘self-aware.’
Appreciating the different components of a team, being aware of how each team member’s preferences contribute to the whole, is why I believe this is about communication as much as innovation.
The Innovative Team does two things. Each person has a particular area within a project where they like to contribute most. These four areas are called out and then exemplified through the novel. In essence, the roles are describes, and then a realistic skit is played out to give you a feel of how the parts work together. Second, even as team dynamics are being worked out, TIM helps illustrate the ‘universal creative process.’
The basic components of the universal creative process, which maps against areas different team members like to spend their time in, are:
- Clarifying the Situation
Making sure you truly understand the situation fully.
- Generating Ideas
Brainstorming is prominent here with constructive ideas on doing so.
- Developing Solutions
Taking care to fully, adequately develop solutions. What if ‘this’ happens, and then ‘this’, and…
- Implementing Plans
Time to execute.
One of the areas I thought TIM did very good at, was spending time helping provide mechanisms for keeping the entire team engaged throughout the different stages. For instance, there are team members that just hate brainstorming, coming up with ideas, and leave that phase to others. Then, when it’s time to start separating the wheat from the chaff, the brainstormers get frustrated while others start really warming up. Yet, finally, when it’s time to execute, many people get bored to tears and simply check-out, preferring to leave it to the project manager to drive everything forward.
The Innovative Team takes a unique approach, a fresh approach, toward looking at how to help teams work better as a cohesive whole, understand and appreciate each others’ differences, without boring everyone to tears along the way.
As someone who has dealt with these issues in the past, and expect to do so again in the future, this book will stay on my shelf for a future re-read.
[In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher made the book available to me should I be interested in doing a review. No monetary considerations exist.]