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Any group, whether it’s a professional network or local issue group, benefits from innovating. Finding a new way to go about reaching your goals is inspiring, energizing, and it can lead to amazing outcomes you couldn’t have imagined. Of course, you can’t just decide as a group, or as its leader, to “innovate now!” Innovation thrives in a culture of inclusion, support and openness, where risk-taking and thinking out loud is rewarded. It dies in critical, hierarchical, risk-averse environments.
Is your group primed for innovation? Does it need a little tune-up first? Let’s take some action to find out.
Reviewing the Culture
Is it acceptable for junior members to be able to speak out? Does the team work in a supportive way instead of criticizing continually, and is there openness? These are just a few examples of cultural markers that make a difference when trying to spark innovation within a group or network. If people feel they cannot speak out, for example, changes are less likely to be suggested.
Giving Opportunities to Team Members
Being known as a team where there are opportunities will attract people who want to make tangible contributions. When key projects come up, there are opportunities for team members to lead and shape those initiatives. Giving everyone a turn at leading a new initiative will develop people and inspire them to do their best. Examples include getting someone new to lead on a social media initiative and shape the communication to others. Younger teammates who are new to a role also play an important part in helping older members of a group learn about the power of social media. In this way group members can be inspired to help each other learn a new skill.
Collaborating With Others
One of the powerful ways that groups and networks can grow and innovate is collaborating with other organizations and teams. This gives group members exposure to new ways of doing things and a chance to try them out. Examples include working as part of a national project or collaborating with a university department on research. Working with another team gives your team members inspiration as they work on initiatives and encourage them to develop their skills further. By having collaborative links with other regions or organizations, a group can offer so much more to team members in terms of new experiences and a broadened network.
This goes for collaborating with outside individuals, as well. Finding and working with a subject matter expert who can ‘level up’ your team can be simpler and easier to facilitate than joining forces with another group.
Does your team celebrate successes and show how work done within a group has led to change? Sometimes a project started by one person does not show the impact for a while. Following that change through and celebrating the success inspires people to do more. For example, the Break Dengue campaign started small but is now award winning and has over 160,000 followers. It aims to reduce the threat of Dengue Fever and provides access to marginalized communities using social media. The results would not have been seen at the start of this campaign, but this social movement is helping raise awareness of the disease. Innovative teams do a lot to raise the profile of their projects and ensure group members remain motivated and inspired to do more by celebrating each small success.
Once your team has created a culture that supports innovation, you can explore many ways to feed that creativity and uncover ideas that are just waiting to be found. We’ll cover that in a future post.