What does innovation mean in your team? For teams involved in research and development or quality improvement, the answer may be obvious. But it isn’t obvious for teams that do the same work, week in and week out, month in and month out. What I have found is that everyone has thoughts about how things could be better—they see things that could be changed, fixed, or improved that would make work easier, would make more sense, or achieve better results. Most people just don’t call this innovation. As a leader you can tap into your team’s creativity and resourcefulness to make sure their ideas don’t go to waste. But first you need to believe they do have ideas worthy of being heard, and then create the opportunity for them to speak up. What has worked best for me is to divide my team up into small groups of three or four people, and ask them this question: What have you noticed that if changed, fixed, or improved would increase our team’s performance? When you do this on a regular basis, at least every other month, team members start to pay more attention to what they are seeing, and take ownership for continually improving the team’s performance. Keith Ayers President Integro Leadership Institute West Chester, Penn.
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