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In People lesson 1, we discussed the primary roles on an innovation team.
Now we’ll turn to discussion of who should be on your team, and some thoughts on how to build a team.
“When you expand your team, you can expand your results.”
For example, you expanded your team when you took on this program: you added me and our other program participants. Excellent choice!
Reasons to grow your team
- None of us knows everything, and by definition, if it is an innovation for us, we do not know much about it, because we haven’t done it before.
- Likely, if it’s an innovation for you, it’s an innovation for most of the people in your immediate ecosystem. The life or business system that got us where we are, is unlikely to get us where we want to be, if the desired future outcome is much different than the current situation.
- While it’s easy to believe those closest to you are automatically on your core team, it’s important to recognize that this is an assumption. Sometimes, when we ask, we find we might need to add more people to our team.
In the early stages of an innovation, it’s important to expand our conversation broadly.
Through collaboration with subject matter experts, mentors, and coaches, we are able to uncover and see what other new people and resources could help in our initiative.
In some cases, these new people and resources are critically necessary, as in, we could not be successful without them. It’s important to find these things as early as possible, and we usually are only able to do that by asking people who know different things than we do.
One reason many innovation initiatives fail is they do not plan for or include all the necessary people or resources.
“…when it comes to business most people haven’t created the kind of networks that empowers them to think originally and creatively. I offer that until you do create such a network that you’re mostly limited to obsolete business knowledge and outdated strategies and don’t know it.”
While the above quote targets business situations, it applies in all areas of our lives.
If you have failed at an initiative before, it is certainly because you did not include all the people you needed (or you did not take and use information or advice from the right person or people).
The thing is, smart people who know valuable things are everywhere, and smart people love to talk about their areas of expertise.
All we have to do is ask.
- There is a sometimes saying that a failing company is, “the best kept secret in their industry”. By not sharing their idea, or marketing their products effectively, or expanding their team, they are not growing the company to break even.
- I worked on an inventory system project where the founding team did not involve the Finance department in their design. Eventually, the company began to have financial reporting issues because inventory directly affects the financial statements, but there was no direct connection between the inventory and accounting systems in the system we delivered. After the CFO identified a $1 million dollar monthly growing shortfall, we added members of the Finance department to our team, determined what was necessary to correct the accounting discrepancy, built and deployed it, and resolved the problem.
To get new results faster, share your idea and expand your team by inviting others to take part with you.
An invitation may be little more than:
“Is it ok if I check back with you about this from time to time?”
“When I go to the refrigerator, will you tell me looking good is better than dessert?”
Failure to apply this rule, in any but the smallest initiatives, is likely to result in failure of the initiative.
While an undertaking is new for you, it is almost always the case that someone else has already conquered the area you are now considering.
Go out of your way to identify others who have done, are doing, or have fulfilled an accomplishment like the one you envision.
Even if it’s an area that is completely new to humanity, there are still subject matter experts who have extreme amounts of knowledge in areas that will be important to you.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Find others who have gone where you’re going, or who have expertise you need.
Experts typically love their areas of expertise.
They will help you, just so they can be involved.
They are passionate and will appreciate the opportunity to share with you their love of the subject.
Building a team
The only way to ensure someone is on your team is to:
- Have an explicit conversation about what you’re doing,
- Enroll them in the possibility you are creating, and
- Invite them to participate.
- If they accept your invitation, you can begin to expect them to support you in your journey.
- If they do not accept your invitation, or change the subject, or any number of responses that are not explicit acceptance of your offer, they are not on your team. This does NOT mean they are a bad person, or they are unreliable, or they do not love you, or they will never be on your team, but it does mean they have (for now) not consented to take part with you in the initiative you have shared.
- If you conducted this conversation appropriately, there will be no impact on other areas of your relationship. They are likely still willing to support you in any other initiatives where they have participated. If you’re not sure, ask!
Consider who you can add as a supportive member or member(s) of your team:
- Enroll people/organizations/institutions in your existing network.
- Add new ones:
- Participate on Facebook group or other online support group/network
- Topic-specific websites like SparkPeople or Strava
- Create and take part in a Mastermind group or Meetup
- Identify a mentor
- Hire a coach
- Consider a 12-step program
- Join Weight Watchers or other in-person support groups, clubs, teams, Meetups, businesses, or programs oriented around your specific interest or endeavor.
Add them to your Google sheets template ecosystem chart.
Write short answers to the following questions, and include them in your PowerBoard:
- What was most useful for you here?
- What one new idea can you take away and begin to use immediately?
Your PowerBoard now includes your People inventory, updated with prospects for expanding your team. It also includes at least one more idea you can put to use immediately.
Click the link above and
Be confident everywhere
For More Information
- Co-creation: Stop Eliminating Perfectly Good Candidates by Asking Them the Wrong Questions, Nilofer Merchant, via Harvard Business Review
- Some good examples of when to involve others: These money habits in your ‘financial junk drawer’ are probably doing you more harm than good
- Isolation is the dream-killer, not your attitude | Barbara Sher | TEDxPrague
- Hustle till you make it? Reddit’s co-founder says putting work above all else could be ‘toxic’
- Jeff Willmore quote comes from here.
- Tale of a 450 person team.
- For personal and business concerns, inexpensive access to legal consultations is available through LegalShield.
- For fitness and wellness initiatives:
- How to create a Mastermind group.
- Reflection questions are inspired by The Coaching Habit.