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Leading Teams that Innovate

Ayse Birsel writes a provocative article with the title "To come up with a good idea, start by imagining the worst possible idea". To find good ideas to enable innovation drivers, Birsel suggests that leaders should change their role. Leaders should set the boundaries then transform into a collaborator function to allow the team to solve problems in their own way. By facilitating the innovation process leaders empower far more people with a greater focus. When lead with skill, the outcome is a sustainable generation of solutions with more meaningful potential.

Birsel recommends three steps for leading innovation in this way:

1. Divergent initiating

In this freeflow process, initiators must encourage divergent thinking to generate a large number of new ideas.

2. Look ahead

Innovation leaders must have the ability to identify future problems that will need solving accurately. Once identified, these problems must be presented to the team to take problem-solving ownership. Finally, teams must possess the organizational empower to generate and implement the solutions they generate.

3. Flat rather than deep

Leaders must remove hierarchies which present friction to the problem-solving process. Cross-functional teams with high-quality connections are optimal patterns for collaborative solutioning.

While the leader's role is pivotal to any innovation team, Birsel builds a strong case for a collaborative building leader. The result is empowered teams that can maximize their combined efforts.


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