28 Feb 2017
Entrepreneurship & Management
The Importance of Team Preparation for an Ideation Session
Team preparation is an important phase to be achieved before an ideation session to ensure creative results both in quantity and quality. This article will explain you the why and the how.
Team preparation introduction
Team preperation for an ideation session is one of the MOST IMPORTANT THING to obtain RESULTS, especially if you have time constraints to create, to innovate. You might be lucky and have:
- a diversified team
- composed of participants who know and respect each others,
- used to work together,
- with a good and respected leader
- who make sure that every one participate and are motivated,
- knows how to motivate them if not,
- participants who know the creative style and expertise of each other,
- are able to take risk when it is required and limit them when they should,
- creating in a good working environment
- with an organization who know how to support creative teams
If your creative team has not ALL THOSE ELEMENTS, your team is just not prepared. You are taking risk at the wrong time. You probably won’t be as efficient as you should have been to realize a creativity session. You could be lucky and have still good results but YOU are taking risks at the wrong time. Why should you?
Every points above should be covered in a different article, but you may miss time to read them all, so we have made just one article trying to get to the point for each of those important points.
To prepare your team, here is what you should do:
1. Know each other activities
If team members do not know each others, make activities to help them to know each members, to trust and to work together. If you don’t have time before the ideation session, make one activity to start this session.
2. Each other’s respect
Participants need to accept the difference, the confrontation of ideas while RESPECTING EACH OTHERS! This is how ideas are sparks! You will need to explain those points. Without ideas confrontation, your team may miss great ideas. If confrontation become personal, your team will loose participants that will stop their involvement and idea’s sharing.
3. Team’s diversity
To stimulate creative sparks, confront ideas, you need participants with different experience, knowledge, work environment, culture, etc. Diversity is very important but may bring respect problems. It is important to explain to the participants why the team is diversified and the importance to respect the differences.
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A team can be defined as a group of people interacting in order to gain or accomplish a common target, which implies a distribution of tasks and convergence of efforts of team members . For them to interact, group members must at first all know each other. Otherwise, there must be a time and an activity when they would learn about one another. It is important that they are aware of the expertise and the type of work they all perform, that they have been chosen to work together because they are different and that difference enriches creativity. Thus, they accept differences, confrontation of ideas while respecting one another.
The complementarity of knowledge and expertise will be sought at the ideas generation stage. Participants must take into account their respective professional backgrounds which, put together, will allow them to find original ideas .
The complementarity of participants contact networks will be very useful to promote the idea.
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Stobbeleir, de Clippeleer and Dewettinck stress on the importance of having a supportive leadership style and not a control leadership, in order to enable participants to be more creative [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Beware of leaders who take ALL THE PLACE! If this happens, take a break and fix the problem quickly in private.
6. Team’s expertise
The stimulus or problem that require the mobilization of a team for the implementation of this ideation process will allow leaders to define the skills they need to build the team. So, they will have to choose or involve participants who have the required skills. They must get to know the participants and encourage those who have a large network of knowledge (education, experience, contact). Participants will be chosen in different areas that will be complementary .
In creativity, group knowledge (even if the group does not have all the knowledge) should allow to have the elements to solve the problem, or create in the area where it is to innovate. If the group has too much expertise, the challenge may not be sufficient to maintain the motivation of its members. If it lacks knowledge about the challenge, expertise could become the weak link .
7. Participants Creative style
The research we have carried out from 2007 and 2013 led us to the conclusion that the majority of participants in the team and managers do not know the creative style of team members. However, this information is important to gather since the participants must be both different and complementary [8, 9, 10, 11]. Creativity is born from the confrontation of ideas: Therefore, the team should not be composed of participants who are similar from the point of of view of the professionand experience. But without knowledge of the creative style of the participants, building a complementary team with varied creative styles will be difficult. On the individual level, research suggests that the outputs of creativity will be richer with creative people who:
- Have a creative mind [2, 6, 12, 14];
- Find it easy to absorb information ;
- Prefer to solve problems creatively [15, 16];
- Are open to new experiences [2, 13];
- Are able to combine autonomy and responsibility .
This highlights the fact that people have to be autonomous in order to think outside the box.
Some researchers believe that creativity is associated with introverted persons . For example,  describes people extroverted as those who merely help employees produce creative outputs. Researchers also believe that, by combining personality traits to the stages of creative processes, people introverted have good skills to generate ideas while those extroverted will be very useful to convince leaders to adopt the idea [19, 20, 21].
When time comes to realize the idea chosen, people who demonstrate flexibility and results orientation are particularly important; creativity is less important at that stage [2, 4, 10, 11, 22].
8. Risk taking
It is important to take risks during the ideation session: Participants should have no restriction till the end of the ideation session. You need many crazy ideas to create sparks. You will need to mature ideas to make them strong and less risky when you will approach the innovation process steps.
9. Participant’s motivation
It is important to ensure that participants are motivated to take up the creative challenge proposed, to foster intrinsic motivation, passion and interest of people to do something, for the pleasure and satisfaction that derives from it [8, 23, 24, 25]. Also, they must integrate the team, build camaraderie, communication and sharing and ensure that they comply with their differences. In terms of extrinsic motivation from outside of the person (such as money), some scientists say it encourages creativity [26, 27], while others claim that it interferes with it [8, 23, 24, 25]. Our best advice: Try not to if you can.
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10. Working environment
According to , what is important in the work environment is that ideation team is physically isolated in order to concentrate on its duties; the rest has little impact on creativity.
11. Support of the organization
The support of the organization, both from the point of view of its managers and the company, may allow the establishment of a work environment that fosters employees creativity [28, 29, 30, 31]. The organization can foster creativity in many ways [8, 32] which may include:
- Add a creative dimension to employees work objectives;
- Encourage collaboration and communication and show perseverance to face difficult problems;
- Ensure that the organization shares information with the team, that the team members share it between each other and that the team shares information with the organization (this way reinforces the three components of creativity: Expertise, creative thinking and intrinsic motivation);
- Ensure that the entire organization supports the creative work of project teams;
- Ensure that the organization will offer collaboration with members of the project team as needed;
- Ensure that conflicts and political problems do not infiltrate the creative work.
When we began our research in 2010 on creativity, we thought that, to be creative, teams would need creative methodologies to be more efficient doing creativity when time is restraints. We knew that those methodologies were badly used in team creativity. It is still true but they need much more than that. Team preparation is one of the essential component to be creative during ideation sessions (especially when they are short) and remain competitive in today’s world.