Currently viewing the tag: "Innovation and networks"

– Questioning, networking, observing and experimenting

We live in a world in constant evolution and with a significant variation in what are key skills to work in teams and systems.

When organizations want to create work teams, they use in first place their internal resources and seek to equip their employees with the skills to lead their organizations to success.

The skills and abilities that are required today to employees of organizations include the ability to create networks, ability to evolve with new technologies, multilingual domain, cultural sensitivity, ethical behavior, critical thinking and creative problem-solving ability, among others.

Many times, so that organizations can build representative work teams  of a diversity that complement each other through the competences referred, it is necessary to recruit their (future) employees, not exclusively on the basis of analytical criteria, but also selecting people who are more prone to creativity and who have certain sets of relevant knowledge and skills for innovation.

When enabling the diversity of skills and disciplines of its members, organizations build interdisciplinary teams that favor the development of an innovation culture.

There is an advantage in interdisciplinary teams that is worth highlighting and that results from the development of generalist skills of team members , when they have the possibility to discuss third-party interventions in its areas of expertise.

Interdisciplinary teams can be seen as ensembles, which develop environments that:

-Allow opening the new challenges and promotes creative questions.

-Allow us to think about the unthinkable and promotes the perspective of contrast.

-Pave the way for daring, for trusting and favor dialogue

A culture of innovation is developed in confidence and boldness environments despite often also being constrained environments.

As a result of the relationship developed into interdisciplinary teams, learned behaviors are a fundamental difference that they manifest when we talk about a culture of innovation within organizations.

This culture is lived with passion that is fed with the celebration of ideas of all  team members  who develop autonomy. There failure is not punished and diversity is maximized.

Let’s see what can be a small example:

“Once people have succeeded at a game-changing innovation, the level of energy in the company elevates. Even people who weren’t directly involved are affected through the social networks. It becomes easier for them to expand their idea of what is feasible. Building this sort of capability often has the rhythm of, say, skilled basketball practice: a group of people who gradually learn seamless teamwork, reading one another’s intentions and learning to complement other team members, ultimately creating their own characteristic, effective, and uncopyable style of successful play” – A. G. Lafley

This could be something called pollination of ideas or the “ability to make connections between seemingly unconnected things” that Scott Anthony referred and which translates into four approaches that successful innovators follow:

– “Questioning: Asking probing questions that impose or remove constraints.

– Networking: Interacting with people from different backgrounds who provide access to new ways of thinking.

– Observing: Watching the world around them for surprising stimuli.

– Experimenting: Consciously complicating their lives by trying new things or going to new places.”

These findings mentioned by Scott Anthony may mean that the interdisciplinary teams, when they live a culture of innovation are the favorable conditions for the development of an innovative activity.

However we know that action requires energy and innovative interdisciplinary teams, to develop with success their goals, also require fuel that leverage creativity and innovation.

Daniel Pink on Drive suggests that one of the incentives that we can “create” for people is a sense of autonomy, which allows them to dominate their work, and create a sense of purpose.

Rewards and recognition, especially the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic incentives, influence the way the employees of organizations deal with their responsibilities.

The opportunity to be part of a real world, where each one of us, in its area of expertise, can contribute collaboratively for a common result, is something that organizations should seek to create to provide their real and sustainable development.


Do you want to comment?


This post was originally published at OpenMind – BBVA


Tagged with:

People are the nodes

Some of the good reasons, why we should participate in events with speakers or facilitators we already known from social networks, is that we can broaden our perspective and knowledge of the work of those people.

I had the opportunity to meet personally Tim Kastelle at ECCI XII – Faro last week, after more than a year of connection via twitter (@ timkastelle) and after reading his blog “Innovation Leadership Network”. Tim is the extraordinary person that I suspected to be and that I confirmed in our small conversations during the event, where openness, simplicity and sensitivity were well represented.

On the afternoon of the first day of the event I chose to participate in “Managing Networks to Improve Innovation”, and I must confess that I did it more, with the intention to meet Tim as a person, than to avidly absorb a lot of information.

This was the intention!

The result was far beyond what I expected because the way the work was exposed and the momentum achieved with about twenty participants from many points of the globe have led to a profound sharing of concepts and methodologies.

One of the fundamental bases of Tim Kastelle’s work is, as he himself explained, the contact with the outside world, i.e. with the space where action develops. In innovation the key is to execute the ideas and we will only do so if we know and prepared the environment (networks of an organization) where such implementation is going to happen in order not only to create value but also making it accessible to many people.

“Innovation happens in networks!”

According to Tim Kastelle, if we seek to manage innovation within an organization (environment) is easier to be effective if we understand how networks work. For this we need to do an analysis of how networks work and try to understand how people connect with each other and how the knowledge is shared between them.

This methodology used by Tim Kastelle not only allows us to detect the flow of information, but also to verify if there are people who do not have connections, and from there try to establish procedures so that they can be improved or reworked. This analysis seems to me to be extremely useful when you have differentiated physical and distant spaces where the physical contact of persons does not exist and therefore needs a more understanding facilitated by observation of maps.

When we map, through information collected by one or several questionnaires we determine who are the people (nodes) with more connections and in which direction they are established.

Tim Kastelle presented a map (a problem-solving network) where people are the nodes (red from one location and green from another), that shows well how these networks can operate and that despite being a powerful tool for analysis does not cease to be a work of art.

I think that this methodology can lead us to a clarification of the communication processes, distinguishing between the informal and formal process and which is the relevance of each of them in the way people innovate. Everything will depend on the type of questions, but it seems to me that the mapping communication flows can also help in conflict resolution of the innovation teams.

Is there room for informal leadership within these groups of innovators?

To what extent the decision-making in these networks is a purely formal and consequent act?

From the analysis of the data represented in the maps we can begin to raise questions to understand what the real participation of people in the projects they are involved in or trying to understand why A or B that eventually we believe with special talent to a project is not a part of that project.

Is it possible to start thinking mapping the connections when we talk about open innovation?

To what extent mapping is useful in resolving conflicts that hinder the pace of implementation desired?

If a person is an important node in the innovation process, which is the result caused by his disappearance of the network?

The connections have a cost to organizations and so it seems to be easy to understand that good management of the networks not only allows the development of a climate of satisfaction as makes it easy to change when necessary within organizations.

“Managing the networks structure often leads to rapid changes in performance.”

Thanks Tim Kastelle for this opportunity of learning and reflection.