Our clients always generate more ideas by working with us, but the originality and value of those ideas varies fairly widely. What factors influence the creative output of an innovation project team?
Results are most affected by the native creativity of the team members. Some individuals are simply wired to come up with more ideas. These are the dreamers, the people with active imaginations. They are prolific ideators, but most of their ideas are infeasible, misguided and just plain bad! Still, it has been said that the best way to come up with a good idea is to come up with a lot of ideas and then eliminate the bad ones, so highly creative individuals will help you to reach your innovation goal.
The focus of the team members also affects results to a great extent. An employee who has spent his entire career in one industry may have a hard time questioning the conventional wisdom of that industry. He may be unable to shift focus from the technologies and products of his industry to consider related or even unrelated fields that could provide pathways to meaningful innovations in his field.
Another limiting factor is ambition, coupled by the ability to use math to gauge the potential value of an idea. At one of our sessions, a participant was passionate about his new product idea until he used our tools to calculate the potential market size. Even if it was a smash hit, the new idea would add very little to the company’s sales and profits. Teams produce big ideas when they make up their minds to produce big ideas, and when they are not willing to settle for less.
How do you select employees to work on your corporate innovation team? What traits and attitudes do you test for? If your employees are not as strong in some areas, which outsiders do you bring to the table? Feel free to comment below.
Additional reading on this topic: The Special People That Believe in You