How and why an innovative team can leverage its organization’s creative resources to achieve and sustain breakthrough results
By nature, an innovative team is one comprised of members who rely on innovative thinking to improve a concept, methodology, system, process, or product. Those who comprise a team know more and can do more than any of its members can. In Tom Davenport’s latest book, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.”
Please keep the reference to “organizational judgment” in mind when considering these comments by Chris Grivas and Gerard Puccio in the Foreword to their book: “we have discovered that most people report having higher levels of energy for some areas of creative process over others. We refer to these four creative creative-thinking preference types as Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and implementers. Each way of thinking is fundamental to the creative process; that is, you need all four to generate breakthroughs, but our research and applied work has highlighted the fact that people will vary in regard to how comfortable they are thinking and behaving as Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and Implementers.”
However different members of an innovator team may be in many respects, Grivas and Puccio urge them to consider a theory, developed into a methodology, called FourSight that has been severely tested and rigorously refined over a period of several decades in real-world organizations whose leaders were determined to “unleash creative potential for breakthrough results.” They organize their material within two Parts: a business fable that involves fictional executives in a fictional company that faces very real challenges and crises (viewed both as perils and as opportunities). Although Grivas and Puccio have by no means written a potboiler, a page-turner, they make skillful use of the narrative components (setting, cast of characters, dialogue, plot developments, etc). The details of the fable are best revealed in context, in the book.
These are several of the themes, subjects, and issues that Grivas and Puccio cover in Part 2, “Exploring the Four Creative Thinking Styles” (Chapters 17-23).
o Clarifying the organization’s current resources, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, etc.
o Prioritizing problems initiatives
o Determining what must be done to use innovative thinking and initiatives to achieve strategic objectives
o Generating ideas of sufficient quality and in sufficient number
o Developing solutions to root causes rather than responding to symptoms of problems
o Implementing “game plan” with on-going measurement, evaluation, and modification as-needed
o Increasing what works, correcting/eliminating what doesn’t, and “getting the word out” on lessons learned
Then Grivas and Puccio explain how to create and then sustain conditions for success (i.e. breakthrough results) in the final chapter, observing (and I agree), “CEOs and managers ‘prize ‘team players’ because they know that in today’s collaborative world economy an organization’s success, and even survival, hangs on the ability to tap team potential” so that team members tap their organization’s potential. “By becoming more consciously and deliberatively creative, we can enjoy our days with more satisfaction, enable others to do the same, and together produce results that no one has yet dreamed of”
After I read this book and then again as I re-read it prior to composing this brief commentary, I was reminded of a passage in Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather ‘Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?'”
If an innovative team is not making enough mistakes that test its members’ and its organization’s “deeply held assumptions,” it will never unleash creative potential for breakthrough results. Never.