Learn how designing teams based on thinking styles, rather than just skillsets, supports creativity and resilience.
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Designing Teams for Innovation

Field Guide to The Future 

MJ Petroni

Jessica Long

Innovation is about collaboration. Bored yet? Us too—we've heard it before.

We all know that innovation and collaboration must move through a lifecycle that includes idea, launch, scaling and completion—but most teams are not designed to be effective in all of these phases. So what to do about it? Well, design of teams based on thinking styles, rather than just skillsets, supports creativity and resilience.

Innovation can be accelerated by creating reciprocal links between members of teams who think in different ways, complementing one another. And capacity can be increased by creating these links between members of teams who think in similar ways, resonating with one another. 

In this issue of Field Notes, we explore how to structure teams for innovation—rounding out diverse thinking styles so that the tactical engineers don't stifle the contributions of the 10,000-feet-in-the-clouds folks or vice versa. 

We wrote up two guides to get started: one for cultivating your own ability to be a "thought partner" and the other for designing teams whose thinking styles are well matched to their role in the innovation lifecycle. 

And, since we're not the only ones talking about these things, we've also included some articles from around the web which we thought were good reads.

We hope you enjoy reading these, friends—and we'd love to hear what you think!
Being a Thought Partner
Thought partnership is the practice of sharing ideas and experience with others to help them navigate complex challenges. When you pair with people who think differently than you do, you complement—stretching each others’ view of a situation to find and sort useful new approaches to a problem.
Read "Being a Thought Partner"
Designing Teams for Innovation
Innovation and collaboration must move through a lifecycle that includes idea, launch, scaling and completion. Learn which types of team members are needed in each season of innovation, including tangible first steps to strengthening your innovation teams.
Read "Designing Teams for Innovation"
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Sightings from the Field

Articles we like from around the web

How 3M Lost (and Found) its Innovation Mojo
by Don Peppers

What happens when management models (in this case Six Sigma) actually hamper innovation? Take a quick look at how 3M found a way to balance quality and creativity at scale—even after major setbacks.

How Adobe Sparks Innovation by Paying People to Fail
by Anne Fisher

Often a new product or offering’s true potential comes through only after several failures. How can companies build a culture that encourages experimentation, without breaking the bank or veering off course?

Your Innovation Team Shouldn’t Run Like a Well-Oiled Machine
by Ron Ashkenas and Markus Spiegel

Authors Ashkenas and Spiegel outline doctrine for successful innovation teams including keeping a clear mission, having a loose, networked structure, as well as fostering constant interaction and experimentation.

Read more from the Field Guide

Upcoming Events


MJ and Jessica will be at the WorldFuture2016 conference this month in Washington DC, meeting with leaders from diverse fields to discuss innovative ways to create a better future for all of us. The topic we're presenting on is Cybiomes: A Story of Interdependent, Cyborgian Life (see full description below.) 

We're excited to participate in this event, and look forward to sharing lots of inspiring ideas and stories with you from it next month. And if you're in the DC area next week, come join us!

Session Info:
Cybiomes: A Story of Interdependent, Cyborgian Life
Our bodies and our lived environment can be described as biomes—a collection of organisms, norms and possibilities definable through science, and the corresponding mess of feedback loops, evolution and other natural intersections. What if we think of our digital selves as existing in biomes, too? The collection of data, networks and devices we interact with and through are also ecosystems, and their impact on the physical world is immense. How can we merge these two concepts of nature and technology to transform the future of ourselves, our bodies and the environment? In this session, we’ll explore the idea of cyborg biomes—”cybiomes”—and take a holistic view of our future which acknowledges the increasing overlap between humans, nature, and tech.

Event Info:
WorldFuture2016—A Brighter Future IS Possible
Presented by: World Future Society
Washington, DC
July 22-24, 2016
Learn More at http://www.worldfuture2016.org/

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