Understanding the Team Innovation Process

Written by Larry Fehd, CEO & Founder / HPS

While most business leaders seek innovation in new product and service development, few are able to create and sustain the conditions necessary for team innovation.

Innovative, high-performance teams do things very differently and very deliberately. In simple terms, they do the right thing at the right time. However, there is more to the successful team innovation process. While all team members must work together, there are several unique roles that are essential to innovation and high performance.

If you did not have an opportunity to read our recent article on Creating and Sustaining High-Performance Teams, it provides some important information as a foundation for understanding the team innovation process.

Today’s business leaders and organizations rely more and more on teams to innovate, solve problems, increase productivity, and create unique competitive advantage. Understanding and capitalizing on individual approaches to group processes is essential to fostering innovation and creating and sustaining high-performance teams.

Understanding and valuing the collective team contribution to successful innovation is an essential component of achieving high performance. Understanding and valuing individual contribution to successful, innovative teams is equally essential.

But before teams can improve innovation and achieve higher performance levels, it is important to understand and leverage the right roles for the right people. Basically, there are five functional roles required to create the conditions for improving team innovation.

Creator: Generates original concepts, goes beyond the obvious, and sees the big picture. Hands off tasks to an Advancer.

Advancer: Recognizes new opportunities, develops ways to promote ideas, and moves toward implementation. Hands off tasks to a Refiner.

Refiner: Challenges and analyzes ideas to detect potential problems and may hand plans back to an Advancer or Creator before handing off to an Executor.

Executor: Lays the groundwork for implementation, manages the details, and moves the process to completion.

Facilitator: Works throughout the process to ensure that tasks are handed off to the right people at the right time.

In today’s business environment of limited resources and time constraints, exemplary leaders must create and sustain the conditions for team innovation and high performance. Exemplary leaders do not rely on chance by allowing teams to form arbitrarily. Exemplary leaders know from experience that innovation and high performance do not happen by chance. Exemplary leaders also know the significance and contribution of innovation and high performance to bottom-line business results.

Copyrighted excerpts from this article were used with permission from Inscape Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Human Performance Strategies is a certified and licensed facilitator of Inscape Products and the Innovate with C.A.R.E. Profile® – Understanding and Valuing Individual Contribution to Successful Innovation Teams.

Larry Fehd


Larry Fehd is CEO and founded Human Performance Strategies (HPS) in 2000 following a successful career with Johnson & Johnson where he led executive leadership, team and organizational development. He is masterful at helping clients to break through inertia and the status quo.  He conceived the new and proprietary concept of Invitational Leadership™. He envisions the future of leadership as a passage beyond inertia and status quo and works with clients to develop invitational leaders at all levels of the organization.  He consults to a diverse group of U.S. and international clientele, and speaks and writes about, building high-performance leaders, cultures, teams and organizations.

(512) 415-0748

Comment on this Article

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *