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Three Rules for Innovation Teams

It’s a good thing that I read Continuum CEO Harry West’s Three Rules for Innovation Teams in our soft conference room, door closed; I couldn’t stop myself from saying “mmm hmmm” or “yes!” out loud as I read each sentence. Then I made a chart that mapped each of West’s points to analogous processes or protocols in our projects, company, and industry.


1. Manage Creative Friction
Sounds a lot like one of the “why IPDworks” principles that Howard Ashcraft highlighted so long ago at the Autodesk Waltham kickoff. And then, he gets even more IPD:
  • Share the Experience: Include the entire team in the full ideation process. I experienced this firsthand on Autodesk Waltham. Interacting with users to understand their needs and aspirations is motivating and creates a strong sense of shared purpose.
  • Remove Communication Barriers: We think we’re removing communication barriers when we exchange models or get people together in a room. At Continuum, they do “social styles analyses to help people understand how their teammates tend to communicate”. Yes, we learn how to maximize our effectiveness with individuals over time, but I’d much rather do it sooner.
  • Have at It: Engaging multiple perspectives creates a better result. “Lock yourselves in the project room and engage in a passionate debate.” See colocation.
2. Bring the Creativity to the Center
According to West, a project room (i.e. colo room) is:
  • A dedicated space teams use from conception to execution
  • Setup with natural light (check), plenty of space (oops), pinup space (got it!), AV access (check)
He also indicates that “a successful project room should not isolate the team [from the company as a whole].” This is where we have some thinking to do.
When we pull multiple people out of their different company offices into a single place, we leave out the “home office”. Furthermore, individuals who work near the colo room (rather than in it) sometimes lose track of the action.

3. Stand For Delivery
“Innovation is the creation and the delivery of new value.” Yes! This is why we are using VDC –using innovation to deliver a better product. 

West also refers to the handoffs from conception (design) to execution (construction). “Make sure there is an extended team of stakeholders who have responsibility for the entire innovation process.” This is extremely critical and probably one of the biggest struggles.

What are your "rules for innovation". Are you following any of Harry West's rules?

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