8 traits to look for in your team that drives innovation

This is the story of today, be it startups or large corporates –

We need to innovate. We have to find new opportunities and tap new marketplaces by providing innovative products and services to our customers.

Now, the question comes down to how an organization innovates. What it takes for a team to innovate? After all, an organization is built by people or group of people.

In my career, I have been fortunate to receive opportunities to form teams and build products from the ground up. Doing so has made me discover the traits needed to build the team that is consistently innovating. I will outline a few below:

1. Iterative

These are the people for whom it’s never about success or failure. They are always iterating, evolving, and changing. When everybody is moving to the next task, they evaluate the approach and results asking- “what will happen if I tweak this? Let me check the result”. They are brilliant for innovation because these individuals believe that the best innovation is just the next evolutionary step. And as we know, all great products have that one small shift or edge over the others.

2. Futuristic

Futuristic people are all about tomorrow. Yes the past and present matter, but they constantly think about future possibilities. They not only focus on the problems of today ,but also are constantly thinking and implementing for future scenarios and opportunities. So, they are not solving today’s challenge but they are 10 steps ahead solving future challenges.

3. Collaborative

We recognize them as it takes them 20 mins to arrive at their workspace, as they talk to everybody while walking down the hallway. We presume he is not at his desk at any given time, but this is their mechanism of innovation. They innovate by pulling pieces of information from different people and bringing together their perception and ideas. They are good at building teams and believe good ideas come from a cross-disciplinary approach.

4. Exploratory

These individuals are very hands-on. They prioritize exploration and experimentation over perfection. You can spot these people from phrases like “Let’s try this and see what is the outcome”. They like to build a prototype to look at a problem in a different way.

5. Inquisitive

They believe that key to innovation lies in the question rather than in the answer or the solution. You can find them in a meeting saying “Wait, I have one more question”, “Hold on! how about this? What does this mean?”. They innovate by challenging the problem/assumptions. We need them or the industry would be stuck in the status quo.

6. Instinctive

They are the ones who have a hard time rationalizing their ideas. When most of us think in a linear fashion A-to-B-to-C-to-D they think A-C-B-A-D, they are trying to connect the dots in multiple ways because they feel and believe in it. Their innovation comes in connecting the pieces of puzzles in unconventional ways.

7. Risk Taker

These are the individuals who take leaps of faith. They are very comfortable being uncomfortable. They push the team to go to places where they wouldn’t normally go. These individuals are not to be considered reckless but are the ones who take calculated risks. In a discussion, they help other members look at different, often contrary approaches.

8. Fluid

They are the ones who do well in an environment of ambiguity and thrive on it. They take foggy, unclear scenarios and step up to provide a greater sense of clarity.

Do tell me about your own experiences!

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