Catalysing change through innovation teams

What makes Israel so innovative? And what has this got to do with teaming? One of the key discoveries, we made, almost ten years ago, when we relocated to Israel, was the power of its innovation eco-system – the result of a collaboration between the state, venture capital firms, successful entrepreneurs, educational system, business system, incubators, and accelerators. Reinforcing and validating the importance and role of collaboration, where a range of new, inspirational, and adaptive models that lean into complexity and catalyse and embed innovative workplace culture changes, have emerged. Where some organisations, like Disney, Google, Salesforce, and GE, courageously invested and benefited in applying these new models internally, in catalysing change through innovation teams.

Transform creative discoveries

Innovation teams transform creative discoveries and ideas into new platforms and business models in timely, agile, and disciplined ways that bring significant value to the market and organisation. Who, according to Nick Udall, CEO and co-founder of nowhere, effectively deliver the desired step-changes, breakthrough innovations, and organisational transformation, in ways that “move beyond what we know and step into the unknown, where the relationship between cause and effect is more ambiguous, hidden, subtle and multi-dimensional.”

New collaborative models

The range of new collaborative models, include teams and teaming, tribes, collectives, and eco-systems, are all designed to help organisations innovate in turbulent times.

Where they empower and enable everyone to be involved in innovating, and in responding to the diverse assortment of complex challenges emerging from the Covid-19 crises. They also empower and enable people to co-sense and co-create inventive solutions to the range of “complex” challenges, in ways that potentially engineer 21st-century adaptability, growth, success, and sustainability, in countries, communities, and organisations.

Capacity to change

Groups, teams, and teaming are now the “DNA of cultures of innovation”, who fuel organisations, with an “evolutionary advantage – the capacity to change as fast as change itself.” As we transition from our pre-Covid-19 conventional business-as-usual “normals”, organisations have the opportunity to adapt to the high levels of ambiguity by leveraging their peoples’ collective genius.

Utilising open-source innovation and innovation teams to multiply their value and co-create innovation cultures that catalyse growth, in the post-Covid-19 world through:

  • Emerging and exploring possibilities
  • Discovering creative opportunities
  • Integrating diverse perspectives to shape solutions
  • Making strategic decisions
  • Incubating and accelerating new ideas.

Realm of the creative team

According to Dr. Nick Udall in “Riding the Creativity Roller-Coaster” – creative teams embrace and work with the unknown, intangible, invisible, the unconscious and the implicate, that their key challenges are “to wander with wonder into the unknown.”

Through cultivating a 21st-century skill set, including – attending and observing, questioning, listening and differing, risk-taking and experimenting, and teaming and networking that enables them to be, think and act differently.

Catalysing change through innovation teams involves creating a culture of innovation, which according to the authors of “Eat, Sleep, Innovate” – is one in which (mindsets) and behaviours that drive innovation come naturally.

Where creative teams are formed around a Passionate Purpose, that propels them into the unknown, in an unpredictable world, where they connect and stretch with cognitive dissonance and creative tension, through developing discomfort resilience. To co-create collective breakthroughs that shift them beyond managing the probable, toward leading what’s possible.

Role of collective mindsets and behaviours

One of the key elements that we can intentionally cultivate is our ability to develop habits that build our mental toughness and emotional agility to cope with stress and adversity, at the same time, paradoxically, create, invent and innovate.

The one thing that we can all control, and is controllable, are our individual and collective mindsets – how we think, feel and choose to act, in solving complex problems, performing and innovating, to dance on the edges of our comfort zones, in the face of the kinds of uncertainties we confront today.

Challenges in creating a culture of innovation 

Our research at ImagineNation™ has found that many organisations are disappointed and disillusioned with many of the conventional approaches to effecting culture change, largely because of variables including:

  • Confusion between the role of climate, culture, and engagement assessments and processes, knowing which one aligns to their purpose, strategy, and goals and delivers the greatest and most relevant value.
  • The typically large financial investment that is required to fund them.
  • The time it takes to design or customise, and implement them.
  • The complexity of tools and processes available involved in contextualising and measuring desired changes.
  • Designating responsibility and accountability for role modelling, leading, and implementing the desired changes.
  • Building peoples’ readiness and receptivity to the desired change.
  • Efforts required in removing the systemic blockers to change.
  • Designing and delivering the most appropriate change and learning interventions.
  • The false promises of “innovation theatre”.
  • The time it takes to reap desired results, often years.

In response to our client’s need for speedy, cost-effective, and simple, internal and collaborative culture change initiatives, we developed an integrated, simple, yet profoundly effective approach that integrates three powerful streams for catalysing change through innovation teams:

  1. Team development and teaming skills
  2. Education and learning interventions
  3. Coaching and mentoring initiatives

By taking these variables into account, focussing on building the internal capability, and offering a different and fresh perspective towards catalysing change through innovation teams.

Creating a culture of innovation – the innovation team 

We took inspiration from our 32 years of collective knowledge, wisdom, and experience across the domains of change management, culture, leadership, and team development as well as from our 8 years of iterating and pivoting our approach to the People Side of Innovation.

Coupling this with our extensive research sources, we developed and customised a team-based action and blended learning and coaching methodology for innovation teams, described as:

  • Change catalysts who operate with senior leadership sponsorship, empowered and equipped to trigger internal change management, engagement, and learning initiatives.
  • Teachers, coaches, and mentors who provide coaching and mentoring support to educate people in innovation principles and processes that cultivate sustainable innovation through co-creating learning programs and events.
  • A small effective and cohesive team, of evangelists, agitators, coaches, and guides and enables the whole organisation to participate through partnering and collaborating on potentially ground-breaking (Moonshot) projects, aligned to the organisations vision, purpose and strategy.
  • Amazing networkers and influencers who work both within and outside of silos to inspire and motivate people to co-operate and collaborate by taking a systemic perspective, leveraging organisational independencies, to co-sense and co-create groundbreaking (Moonshot) prototypes that they pitch to senior leaders.
  • Being customer-obsessed and equipped with the innovation agility – capacity, competence, and confidence to adapt, transform, and constantly innovate to maximize the impact of innovation across the organisation to affect growth, and deliver improved value by making innovation everyone’s job, every day, to make innovation a habit and way of life.

Future fit and future-facing companies need teams to catalyse change

Involves a commitment toward catalysing change through innovation teams, leveraging teams, tribes, collectives as internal growth engines, who collaborate quickly to respond to ambiguity, turbulence, and rapid developments.

By being focussed, nimble and agile, optimistic and adaptive, leading with open minds, hearts, and will to face uncertainty, and be present and compassionate to emerging human needs. Through courageously experimenting with different business models and processes, that breakthrough the corporate antibodies, and then creatively contributing to an improved future, for the good of the whole, everyone.

This is the first in a series of three blogs about catalysing change through innovation teams, why innovation teams are important in catalysing culture change, and what an innovation team does.

Our second blog will be published in March 2021 and describe how an innovation team operates and our final blog will be published in April and will include an evidence-based case study of an effective and successful innovation team in a client organisation.

Join our next free “Making Innovation a Habit” innovation webinar “Catalysing change through innovation teams.” It’s on Thursday, 25th February 2021 at 8.00 pm Sydney and Melbourne, 11.00 am London, 10.00 am Amsterdam, at 1.00 pm Abu Dhabi and at 5.00 pm Hong Kong. Find out more.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting May 4, 2021. It is a blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centred approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt, and grow your business in the digital age.