What makes Israel so innovative? And what has this got to do with teaming? 

One of the key discoveries we made when we relocated to Israel almost ten years ago was the power of its innovation ecosystem. This is the result of a collaboration between the state, venture capital firms, successful entrepreneurs, the educational system, incubators, and accelerators. Reinforcing and validating the importance and role of collaboration, where a range of new, inspirational, and adaptive models that lean into complexity and catalyse and embed innovative workplace culture changes, have emerged. Where some organisations have strategically and systemically invested in applying these new models internally, others have sought to catalyse change through innovation teams.

Transform creative discoveries

Innovation teams transform creative discoveries and ideas into new platforms and business models in timely, agile, and disciplined ways, bringing significant value to the market and organisation. Innovation teams, according to Nick Udall, CEO and co-founder of nowhere, effectively deliver the desired changes, breakthrough innovations, and organisational transformation in ways that “move beyond what we know and step into the unknown, where the relationship between cause and effect is more ambiguous, hidden, subtle and multi-dimensional.”

New collaborative models

The range of new collaborative models, including teams and teaming, tribes, collectives, and ecosystems, are all designed to help organisations innovate in turbulent times.

Where they empower and enable everyone to be involved in innovating, and in responding to the diverse assortment of complex challenges emerging from the COVID-19 crisis. They also empower and enable people to co-sense and co-create inventive solutions for a range of challenges, in ways that potentially engineer adaptability, growth, success, and sustainability across countries, communities, and organisations.

Capacity to change 

Groups, teams, and teaming are now the “DNA of cultures of innovation”, fueling organisations with an “evolutionary advantage – the capacity to change as fast as change itself. As we transition from our pre-COVID-19 ‘normal’ to a new business reality, organisations have the opportunity to adapt to the high levels of ambiguity by leveraging their staffs’ collective genius.

Utilising innovation teams to multiply their value and co-create innovation cultures that catalyse growth in the post-COVID-19 world through:

  • Emerging and exploring possibilities.
  • Discovering creative opportunities.
  • Making strategic decisions.
  • Incubating and accelerating new ideas.

Realm of the creative team

According to Dr. Nick Udall in “Riding the Creativity Roller-Coaster”, creative teams embrace and work with the unknown, intangible, invisible, the unconscious and the implicate. Their key challenges are “to wander with wonder into the unknown.”

Through cultivating a 21st-century skill set – by attending and observing, by questioning, by listening and differing, by risk-taking and experimenting, and by teaming and networking, creative teams are enabled to think and act differently. 

Catalysing change through innovation teams involves creating a culture of innovation, which according to the authors of “Eat, Sleep, Innovate” – is one in which mindsets and behaviours that drive innovation will start to come naturally.

Creative teams should be formed around a Passionate Purpose that propels them into the unknown, where they connect and stretch with cognitive dissonance and creative tension. This allows them to co-create collective breakthroughs that shift them beyond managing the probable, toward leading what’s possible.

Role of collective mindsets and behaviors

One of the key elements that we can intentionally cultivate is our ability to develop habits that build our mental toughness and emotional agility to cope with stress and adversity,  as well as, at the same time, creating, inventing, and innovating.

The one thing that we can all control, and is controllable, are our individual and collective mindsets – how we think, feel and choose to act, in solving complex problems, performing and innovating, to dance on the edges of our comfort zones, in the face of the kinds of uncertainties we confront today.

Challenges in creating a culture of innovation  

Our research at ImagineNation™ has found that many organisations are disappointed and disillusioned with many of the conventional approaches to effecting culture change, largely because of variables including:

  • Confusion between the role of climate, culture, and engagement assessments and processes, knowing which one aligns to their purpose, strategy, and goals and delivers the greatest and most relevant value.
  • The typically large financial investment that is required to fund them.
  • The time it takes to design or customise tools, and implement them.
  • The complexity of tools and processes available that are involved in contextualising and measuring desired changes.
  • Designating responsibility and accountability for role modeling, leading, and implementing the desired changes.
  • Building peoples’ readiness and receptivity to the desired change.
  • Efforts are required in removing the systemic blockers to change.
  • Designing and delivering the most appropriate change and learning interventions.
  • The false promises of “innovation theatre”.
  • The time it takes to reap desired results–often years.

In response to our client’s need for speedy and cost-effective culture change initiatives, we developed an integrated and simple, yet profoundly effective, approach that integrates three powerful streams for catalysing change through innovation teams:

  1. Team development and teaming skills
  2. Education and learning interventions
  3. Coaching and mentoring initiatives

By taking these variables into account, focussing on building the internal capability, and offering a different and fresh perspective towards catalysing change through innovation teams.

Creating a culture of innovation – the innovation team  

We took inspiration from our 32 years of collective knowledge, wisdom, and experience across the domains of change management, culture, leadership, and team development. We also looked to our eight years of iterating and pivoting our approach to the People Side of Innovation.

Coupling this with our extensive research sources, we developed and customised a team-based action and blended learning and coaching methodology for innovation teams, described as:

  • Change catalysts who operate with senior leadership sponsorship, empowered and equipped to trigger internal change management, engagement, and learning initiatives.
  • Teachers, coaches, and mentors who provide coaching and mentoring support to educate people in innovation principles and processes that cultivate sustainable innovation through co-creating learning programs and events.
  • A small effective and cohesive team of evangelists, agitators, coaches, and guides who enable the whole organisation to participate through partnering and collaborating on potentially ground-breaking projects, aligned to the organisation’s vision, purpose, and strategy.
  • Amazing networkers and influencers who work both within and outside of silos to inspire and motivate people to cooperate and collaborate by taking a systemic perspective, leveraging organisational independencies, to co-sense and co-create groundbreaking prototypes that they pitch to senior leaders.
  • Being customer-obsessed and equipped with the innovation agility – capacity, competence, and confidence to adapt, transform, and constantly innovate to maximise the impact of innovation across the organisation to affect growth, and deliver improved value by making innovation everyone’s job, every day.

Developing the future fit future-facing company

Our work involves a commitment toward catalysing change through innovation teams as internal growth engines, who collaborate quickly to respond to ambiguity, turbulence, and rapid developments. By being nimble and agile, leading with open minds, hearts, and the will to be present and compassionate to emerging human needs, courageously experiment with different business models, and creatively contribute to an improved future, for everyone.

This is the first in a series of three thought pieces about catalysing change through innovation teams, why innovation teams are important in catalysing culture change, and what an innovation team does. 

Keep an eye out for the next pieces in this series in the following weeks.