A Startup’s Guide to Building an Innovative Team

Innovation is at the heart of every business. It’s how companies and their solutions grow, stay ahead of the curve, and reach new customers. You need innovative employees if you want your company to innovate and thrive in today’s competitive marketplace. But what does that mean for building an innovative team?

While many factors are involved in creating an innovative culture, it all comes down to empathy. You see, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it takes a lot of hard work from many people who care about each other—and also really love their jobs! That said, here are some things you can do right now if you want your team members to be more innovative:

Create a Diverse and Inclusive Team

For innovation to happen successfully in any organization or industry, its workforce needs diversity. The reason is that diversity creates an environment where ideas can flow freely without interruption. Without optimal variety, there might be objections raised by certain people who might disagree with them based on their personal beliefs rather than objective facts presented by another person.

Diversity is the driver of innovation. According to a recent study conducted by Forbes, 56% of the companies with over $10 billion in revenue believe that diversity in the workplace is crucial for innovation. In fact, among all the respondents of the study, 65% have already implemented some programs to hire diverse employees.

However, diversity alone isn’t enough. In a 2019 report from McKinsey named “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” it was highlighted that diversity alone is not enough; it is the inclusion in the workplace leading to different experiences that shape innovation. However, the sad thing is that most companies face challenges in tackling inclusion-related problems.

Celebrate Wins and Losses Together

Celebrating wins together is vital for building team morale and keeping everyone on the same page, but it’s also important to acknowledge when things don’t go as planned—especially if you’re going to have a long-term relationship with your teammates. If someone fails at something, they will likely feel discouraged and think they need to give up altogether. Their teammates must recognize this setback before it becomes an issue of self-esteem or confidence.

An excellent way to do this is by planning celebratory activities after any significant win or loss, whether a new client or an impressive milestone achieved in product development. Similarly, it would help if you also celebrated the effort you and your team have put into a goal that didn’t work out well. A team that recognizes and celebrates constructive failure builds a successful workplace. When you celebrate even losses, your team gets motivated to try out different things, promoting innovation.

There’s no innovation without trial and failure. If you are disappointed after a loss, there will be no innovation. Hence, it is vital to celebrate both wins and losses equally to build an innovative workplace.

Encourage Brainstorming

Innovating something is not the task of a single person. When people sit together and brainstorm different ideas, that’s when innovation takes place. A study conducted by professors of Northern Illinois University concluded that brainstorming helps build a strong team that can achieve excellent results in terms of innovation. Hence, you should encourage brainstorming as much as possible!

You should try brainstorming to develop new ideas for your product or service! It’s easy and fun and can help you create excellent solutions that make everyone happy. Moreover, bringing together people from different teams, such as sales, marketing, engineering, etc., helps bring additional perspectives to your product or services.

Communicate Regularly and Effectively

To keep your team in sync, you must communicate regularly and effectively. This can be done through many different methods: email, text messages, Slack messages, and Skype calls—the list is endless. The key is figuring out which way works best for each situation. For example, if you’re informing about a call scheduled within a few hours, it is best to have a buzz about it. However, if you send a resource of information, you can send it via email so that everyone can open it according to their preferences.

The most important thing to remember when communicating with your startup employees is that all communication should be clear and respectful of others’ time! If someone needs something from you or has something important they need help with, give them your time and attention. It’s also essential to ensure every communication doesn’t feel like a burden.

Encourage Idea Sharing Outside of Work

The most innovative teams are filled with people who are always sharing ideas. This can be done organically between team members, or it can happen when a team member brings an idea to the table during a meeting, and everyone starts discussing it.

But if you want to encourage this kind of thinking, there are some things you should avoid doing. Don’t create rules about who can share ideas and how frequently they’re allowed to do so. Give your team members as much leeway as possible, so they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, no matter where they are or what time of day it is. If someone has an idea at 3 am and wants to text another person on your team about it, let them!

As long as everyone knows what’s going on regarding company goals and updates from meetings, there’s no reason not to encourage idea sharing outside of work hours too! However, the sharing can be subtle. For instance, the person who got the idea can share it at any time through a message so that he or she does not forget the idea, and it also doesn’t disturb everyone else.

Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration

Cross-functional teams are more effective. When a team is composed of people with different skills, each person can contribute their unique perspective, and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the reason why most developed companies rely heavily on cross-functional teams. According to Deloitte, 83% of digitally matured companies leverage cross-functional teams. On the other hand, only 71% of companies on the developing spectrum and 55% of startup organizations use cross-functional teams.

Additionally, cross-functional collaboration is more innovative. Each member brings unique ideas to the table based on their varied experiences and perspectives, which leads to better solutions for your customers and your business challenges.

Final Words

It is impossible to be innovative alone. To drive innovation, you need a team that can come up with different perspectives—not just one brain, but many. Follow the tips mentioned above to build an innovative team and workplace that can help you thrive in today’s competitive market.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.