Home > For the Captain: Create an innovation culture > The innovation race will be won by a team of all talents

The innovation race will be won by a team of all talents

At the Beijing Olympics, the 4 x 100m relay was won by the Russian team in 42 seconds – apologies for not being much interested in the tenths and hundredths – while the 400m was won by Christine Ohuruogu in a time of 49 seconds. At the risk of stating the obvious, the same distance is covered a lot faster by a relay team than by a single individual, however talented.

Bearing in mind that innovation is not simply about generating new ideas but observing users, developing concepts, prototyping, up-scaling, marketing and creating value, the innovation race will be run faster by a team than by a single individual. And since each stage is of a different nature, each will be best run by individuals with the most appropriate skills for that stage. At the end of the day, the innovation race will be won, not by the lone genius, but by a team of all talents.

If we accept the above proposition as true, then its contraposition is equally true: whatever your talent, you can take part in the innovation endeavour.  If your talent is, say, logistics, you can take part in the innovation endeavour. Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook has been for years the operational driving force behind the success of Apple. He would be the first to admit that he is no creative genius; but nobody could say that his talent was not instrumental in Apple’s resounding success.

All that is required to take part in the innovation endeavour is to know your talent, team-up with people who bring complementary skills, and go for it.

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  1. Pascal Vedel
    November 6, 2011 at 11:23

    I like this post…quite a powerful image to illustrate team work, innovation and the benefit which can be found in combining diversity for the better

  2. November 6, 2011 at 11:43

    In addition to diversity, talents, skills and capacity, the team must also have strong unity, perseverance, diligence and continuously be inspired to go for it. I would like to think the innovation race is sometimes akin a human race rallying to achieve change.

  3. November 8, 2011 at 11:43

    Interesting post, however I think you a missing a valid point; the consistency of a team.
    It’s important that you have a team of Innovators and adopters, otherwise no work will get done. Within these two categories, you find all the ingredients poeticwanderer talks about.

  4. Vijeesh Papulli
    December 8, 2011 at 09:53

    I loved the way you used the example of relay team and brought it into the process of innovation. As in relay where one of the most part of the race is the ‘passing the baton’ from one team / individual to another. If not done smoothly, an idea could be dropped or not processed in a manner that takes it to its natural conclusion. It is not just about formal innovation process but even when you relate this to idea exchanges between employees it is important that organizations are able to create an environment where this ‘passing of baton’ is encouraged and rewarded.

  1. December 27, 2011 at 14:54
  2. September 11, 2013 at 03:30

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