The Right Team

Along with “love thy customer” and the rest of the “customer touch” components, we arrive at one of the more human elements of the innovation process: teamwork and the team itself. Basically what I look for is a team that really “walks the walk,” rather than just hanging those ubiquitous “Successories” posters all over the walls.

All innovation superstars have teams that work, and they work for a variety of reasons. But before I get into that, it’s worth spending a minute to talk about what’s wrong with most teams. Now, if you were to talk to most management consultants, they’d probably tell you that each one of the various multifunctional team members have a different personality type, and that there’s a “collision in the psychodynamics” of the marketing person, the operations person, finance, etc.

But the truth of the matter is – they’re wrong. Teams need to be made up of good people. Healthy people, people who are happy. People who love the bright shiny objects and everything that makes them into a whole product. People who love customers. People who love other team members.

I know this sounds like “La-la land,” but at the end of the day you cannot fix bad people. And the biggest problem in most team architectures is that you have one or many bad people. I know this sounds almost too simple to be as profound as it actually is, but if you want to get good results you have to have good people. Why? Because good people understand the needs and sensitivities of others. In fact, when we looked at most teams, we found that the biggest problem with most team members was that they were very selfish! They were self-serving and egocentric. It was about them, them, and them. Effective innovation culture cannot survive in this environment.

Going back to my comments earlier about internal and external focus, we want to hire people who are externalists in terms of their ability to look at others, the needs of others, the opportunities offered by others. So that’s the challenge to becoming a superstar – hire good people, because great companies and great innovators are made up of good people. Remember that great people aren’t necessarily creative geniuses – they’re value experts. They have a sense for what others need and care about and how they can deliver it efficiently.

Not only do great companies hire great people, but the other part of the equation – they treat them well. Such well treated, great people are far more likely to do a good job serving their valued customers, especially with effective leadership.


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