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Focusing a Team

  1. Team Assessment: Use this assessment to take a critical look at your team.  

  2. Visioning: Use this activity to articulate your team’s ideal future

  3. Goal Setting: Use this activity to focus your team goals and set a basis for directed action

  4. Building an Action Plan: Use this activity to identify specific actions to begin achieving your goals

  5. Clarifying Roles: This activity will help your team clarify the role of each individual team member.

  6. Understanding Change: A look at managing successful change.

  7. Collaboration Strategies:  Know how to collaborate effectively

  8. Conflict Awareness:  Manage team conflict before it escalates

  9. Team Norms: Setting ground rules for team participation and behavior

  10. Team Expectations: A team leader's expectations of his/her team members

  11. Team Building Games:  Sample five easy-to-implement team building games

  12. Managing the Net Generation: Understand the work expectations of a new wave of professionals

  13. Fostering Innovation: Ten key rules for fostering innovation in the workplace

  14. Workplace Productivity: Thirty strategies to boost your personal on-the-job productivity

  15. Work Culture: Twelve indicators of a healthy work culture

  16. Difficult Feedback: Tips to consider when confronting a team member

  17. Receiving Feedback: Guidelines to accept constructive feedback

Tips for Boosting Innovation*

An article in the Times of London On-Line by Emily Ford provides ten key rules for fostering innovation in the workplace. In difficult times challenging workers at all levels to come up with great new ideas can boost morale and boost revenues too.

1. Make innovation a top priority. Ford points out that “companies that generate 80% of their revenue from new products typically double their market capitalization over a five-year period.” In the global downturn, a common reaction is to hide in the basement and wait for the storm to pass. A pro-active approach — for instance, asking, “what will be our new hit products when the upturn begins and consumers resume spending?” — is far better.

2. Take risks and embrace failure. The global downturn has made everyone — managers, investors, savers, ordinary people — far more risk averse. To innovate, it must be recognized that failure is possible, or even likely. Recognize failure as a worthy attempt to succeed.  Ford cites an expert: “You have to give people the freedom to fail and to fail fast… that’s a real challenge in a risk-averse culture.”

3. Keep your people’s eyes on the future. Many organizations face a bleak future as revenues collapse and layoffs mount. An innovation focus can fight this doom-loop spiral. Ford cites the following finding: “A study of internet banking in the United States looked at chief executives’ letters to shareholders between 1991 and 1995. Those with the highest percentage of sentences about the future introduced new technology the fastest.”

4. Foster creativity at all levels. Not all great ideas occur only to senior managers. Often, those who work at the ‘coal face’ (directly serving, facing or selling to customers) are best aware of changing market conditions and hence know how best to react to them. Challenge everyone in the organization to think hard about what they do and how they do it, and how it might be done better and differently.

5. Break the rules. Innovation is breaking the rules. Challenge your workers to first state what the “rules of the game” are for your industry (nearly all of these are unwritten and unspoken assumptions) and then, second, challenge them to create value for customers. This does not imply, of course, breaking laws or ethical principles.

6. Collaborate across boundaries. Innovation often involves cross-boundary thinking — linking a variety of disciplines. Get your accountants, marketers, salesmen, secretaries, everyone to talk to engineers, technicians — break company boundaries in order to build new ideas.

7. Think global. Global geopolitics are rapidly changing in this time of crisis. Innovation may involve rethinking the geographies of your business. Where can we do business, profitably, that at present we do not? 
8. Act fast and keep refining. “Launch things early then get feedback,” the head of Google UK says. Or, as Guy Kawasaki has said, controversially, “ship, then test!”  You never know if an innovation will work until you try it on a customer.

9. Critique your own products. Use innovation to rethink your own products. If you don’t, your competitors will. Intel, for instance, perfected this strategy by introducing the 286 and 386 microprocessors to replace previous versions well before competitors could do so. Sony failed at this. They delayed introducing MP3 players in order not to hurt Walkman sales and, uultimately, lost a huge market.

10. Be ambitious. Even in a massive downturn set high goals: “When this crisis ends our new ideas and new thinking will enable us to emerge as market leaders.” Innovation has always sought not to gain a point or two of market share, but to make competitors and their business models irrelevant, as Gary Hamel taught us. Use your innovative vision to scoop up great people laid off by companies who can see no future and therefore will not have one.

* Reprinted with permission: Prof. Shlomo Maital, http://timnovate.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/ten-key-rules-for-workplace-innovation/