How to Build an Innovative Team

How to build an Innovative TeamIs there a way to systematically learn how the creative problem solving process works within a team? In Chris Grivas’ and Gerard Puccio’s book The Innovative Team- Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results, the authors walk us through the process by following the story of a fictional team that is challenged to find an innovative solution to a major problem. Through their story the authors deploy several tools and methods of creative problem solving and explain them through the practical implementation in this case study.

The starting point for this book is the belief that everyone needs creativity to be successful in our fast changing times. Through their experience as creativity trainers, the authors developed a method to teach creative thinking skills. They present their method in the form of a story about a fictional team that works at a consulting firm. The company is about to lose a major client because of their lack of presenting truly novel and innovative ideas. Similar to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by P. Lencioni, the story revolves around a hand full of characters, who each represent specific strengths. Through their story the reader learns about steps of the creative process, common obstacles, and systematic tools to generate and implement novel ideas.

The strength of this book lies in demonstrating abstract concepts and tools with concrete real-world examples. The reader follows the issues and development of this one specific team and witnesses how those team members gain clarity about their problems and are ultimately able to solve them. Therefore the creative thinking process becomes very concrete.

The Breakthrough Thinking Process

The so called “breakthrough thinking process” is described in 4 phases:

  • Clarify the situation
  • Generate ideas
  • Develop Solutions
  • Implement Plans

This book does a very good job in demonstrating how divergent thinking (free flowing, spontaneous) and convergent thinking (logical, analytical) are part of every stage of this iterative process. Another strength of this book is the demonstration of the way questions should be phrased and framed to allow open thinking. The reader finds good examples for “statement starters” that trigger an abundance of ideas.

Although this book can’t replace a creative thinking training it gives a very good understanding and overview of the creative problem solving process. It becomes clear that innovative teams can be built systematically. Innovative thinking is a learnable skill that doesn’t require one creative genius but a whole team that learned how to collaborate creatively.


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