5 Tips to Build an Innovative Team

The word of command in the corporate world has been innovation. A survey conducted by PwC consultancy, with executives from 195 companies in the country, shows the scenario: 85% of respondents said that the issue is a priority in their corporations. Not for less. A number of businesses are being threatened by new economy rivals who are quicker, more efficient and able to adapt to the current market momentum. Who remembers, for example, the giant Blockbuster against the current power of Netflix ? In order not to have the same fate, traditional companies need to move.

Innovating in a large organization is not an easy task. That\’s why human resource leaders need to work to form creative teams in which ideas roll loose. Some cliches, like colored cushions, video games and foosball tables, are not enough for this transformation. More important is to maintain an atmosphere that stimulates creativity. According to the American consultant Greg Satell, an expert on the subject and author of Mapping Innovation: The Playbook for Navigating to Disruptive Age : “Motivated people, well treated and in a diverse group will be stimulated to look for solutions “.

5 Tips to Build an Innovative Team

Here are the tips for setting up innovative teams and ensuring business survival.

 

1. Create environments for innovation

Do not just put a video game for employees and think they will be creative from one moment to another. “There is no point in having a room full of puffs and post-its if the leaders\’ heads are not focused on the culture of innovation,” says Luis Rasquilha, president of Innova Consulting. Often, to change the mindset you have to go beyond the walls of the firm. This was done by insurer Porto Seguro, based in the region of Campos Elíseos.

It is in this neighborhood, in the center of the capital of São Paulo, that 10,000 of its 14,000 employees work, including President Fábio Luchetti. A few blocks from the headquarters, however, is the so-called “Cracolândia”. To try to revitalize the region, the insurer inaugurated a theater five years ago and a cultural center in 2016. The investments, in addition to increasing the flow of pedestrians outside business hours, have formed a pole of creativity for employees who participate in courses, workshops and cultural meetings in space. One of the examples is PortoFabLab, a digital manufacturing laboratory geared toward the arts and open to the public. Thus, Porto employees interact directly with the surrounding population. “It\’s a way of bringing new visions to our people,” says Luchetti. The insurer takes other measures to promote innovation: has a startups accelerator (the Oxygen, which supports 29 novice companies) and encourages flexible work. “If a person thinks he\’s doing better at night, why should I choose his schedule?” Says the CEO. “If we do not touch on these old traditions, it will not be possible to create an innovative environment.” In addition to flexible hours, 3,000 Porto employees work from home.

 

2. Encourage collaboration

According to a recent survey by the US consultancy firm Clear Company, 39% of employees of large companies said their colleagues did not collaborate as much as they should. More: For those interviewed, 86% of a company\’s failures happen because of the lack of teamwork between people.

Encouraging this culture is a challenge that the Vivo operator has been facing in recent years. The concessionaire, which has operated in Brazil for two decades, since the privatization of the former Telesp, strives for its 35,000 employees to embrace the idea of joint innovation. “As a company that provides internet services, many may imagine it simpler to innovate here. But that is not what happens, “says Ricardo Sanfelice, vice president of digital strategy and innovation. Vivo tries to change the old philosophy based on command and control to a collaborative vision. This culture is a matter of survival, according to Sanfelice. This is because the operator intends to attract talents who dream of working for digitally native companies such as Google and Facebook. That is why flexibility is fundamental.

The strategy also resulted in an area of innovation and digital, which currently has 600 employees – less than 2% of Vivo\’s total workforce. Following the Agile concept, which stimulates the creation of projects between different sectors, these professionals have the mission of “being evangelizers of innovation”.

A more tangible result of the strategy was the creation of an application for technical assistance, called My Live Fixed. Launched in December and generated by the union of different departments, it aims to halve the more than 700,000 calls related to technical failures that the operator receives each month.

In addition to the interaction between people from different sectors, Ricardo Sanfelice also encourages the insertion of startups in Vivo\’s daily life. “This kind of contact improves the results and motivates all employees to think about new solutions for the company,” he says. To this end, Vivo created the accelerator Wayra and, with it, has already invested in 64 new companies in Brazil. One of them is Eight, linked to the legal area. The startup, which made a contribution in 2013, seeks legal cases against companies and registers them in a more efficient way – something fundamental for a telephone operator, which, with a high number of clients, is at the mercy of actions in the courts. Telefónica, the parent company of Vivo, has already invested around 130 million euros in the Wayra project, with about 10% in Brazil.

 

3. Invest in Diversity

The logic is simple: equal people think alike. The more different people in an environment, the greater the likelihood of different solutions to a problem. A study by Credit Suisse Bank points out that, from 2011 to 2016, companies that invested in diversity had a 6.5% higher profit increase than those who did not bet on the issue. This is one of the pillars on which IBM pays most attention. Every quarter, the human resources area in Brazil brings together leaders in a diversity committee to handle the hiring of women, blacks and representatives of the LGBT community. “We have increased by more than 70 percent the hiring of women and blacks last year,” says Christiane Berlinck, IBM\’s HR director.

 

4. Reward ideas

IBM knows that it needs more than a diversity strategy to have innovation. The company, which in its century-long history has gone from making computers to artificial intelligence systems, tries to stimulate ideas permanently. To do this, he created his own currency: the blue point. If an employee starts an innovative project or has attitudes that encourage the innovation of their peers, he is awarded the money. With the bonus, purchase from travel to appliances. All managers and directors are entitled to reward any person in the company, from the team itself or not.
“It\’s a way to encourage teamwork,” says Christiane, who does not release the results.

 

5. Talk and repeat

Talk about innovation – all the time – is important. The Algar Group, which runs from the resort to the renewable energy company, has created annual cycles on this subject for 16 years. In these meetings, multidisciplinary teams are formed to solve internal and external problems of the corporation and even to suggest new products or services. Since 2001, the company has invested 100 million reais in more than 1 000 projects and had a return of 500 million reais in the same period.

For the theme not to be restricted to just one big event per year, however, Algar has launched a series of smaller events. Programming and learning marathons are done in partnership with universities on a recurring basis, especially in the city of Uberlândia, Minas Gerais. In addition, it also opened an incubator. One of the examples of this movement was the debut of Algar in the market of photovoltaic energy, through the startup Alsol. “We do not see innovation as a matter of the moment,” says Clau Sganzerla, vice president of strategy.

Like everything else in life, there is no recipe for innovation – but there are certain ingredients. It is unrealistic to think that with one event here and another there or with occasional stimuli, teams will become supertalented in creating solutions. “The problem is that many companies imagine that just throwing magic dust that innovation happens, and it is far from being that way,” says Roberto Wik, director of the American consultancy Cognizant. The change of mentality of all involved is fundamental.

After all, the innovation is not the result of a touch of Midas or of poufs scattered around the office.

For the American Greg Satell, the role of HR is to create an environment that stimulates the search for solutions.
The  American Greg Satell consultant released his book Mapping Innovation last year with the proposal to bring executives with a new vision of innovation. In the interview below, the author explains the concepts of innovation and how companies can take their first steps on this issue.

How do you define innovation? Innovating is simply solving problems. Every day, people have new goals and, therefore, companies need to look for answers to those problems. Consumers do not have to waste time thinking about the meaning of innovation: they just want to have access to solutions.

And what would be the role of human resources in this process? There are several points HR can focus on. Engaged, well-treated people and in an environment of diversity will feel stimulated to seek solutions. Therefore, it is necessary to create a space that allows this type of interaction, in addition to stimulating the exchange between employees. To complete, it is important to make clear what the company\’s mission is. In this way, employees will engage in the process and the organization will be able to hire people who truly fit the mindset and business purpose.

Is innovation in Brazil and other emerging countries different than in places like the United States? Innovating in the United States, of course, has many more advantages. The country has a large market, good availability of money for investments and generally lives an economic stability. I have never been to Brazil, but I have lived in countries like Poland, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia and I can say one thing: the difficulties encountered in these nations are more innovative people than in the United States. Because of all the problems, the solutions need to be more thought-out and elaborate. I believe that in Brazil it is the same thing.

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