Simplifying Innovation

Published: July 9, 2015

Innovation is often the solution to the struggle between capacity and complexity. The challenges faced by teams get more complicated each day. The ability of the team to meet these demands is further stretched. The gap widens as time moves forward. Depleted teammates are encouraged to work smarter not harder. If you invest energy in designing a new way to approach a problem, you’ll be rewarded by the benefits of simplicity. This is the value proposition.

The recipe seems counterintuitive: think harder about how to get more done with fewer resources. Perhaps the innovative solution doesn’t need to be manufactured. Maybe it’s not a new approach. Sometimes, the best path is the same strategy that solved a different problem with similar features. This is the beauty of teamwork. The wisdom usually already lives in the creative archives of a teammate’s experience.

Ask these questions when facing a difficult situation:

  • Has anyone ever seen something like this before?
  • What approaches have succeeded and failed in the past?
  • Has every teammate’s voice been heard?
  • Are we paying close enough attention to the outliers and contrary opinions?
  • Do we have the courage to try something uncomfortable?

Take full advantage of the strength and diversity of your team. Innovation doesn’t have to be a chore. Raise the voice of the quiet coworker with the simple idea.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.