Quality Progress - May 2014 - (Page 44)
BY PETER MERRILL
Tips for building and directing innovation project teams
THE SPIKES IN knowledge that have
in history in Menlo Park, NJ. During the
half, a full back and a number eight.
occurred throughout history all have
Renaissance 500 years ago, Michelangelo
These players, plus myself on the wing,
leaders associated with them. The myth
did not paint the Sistine Chapel on his
were the pivotal positions, and each
that surrounds these leaders is they all
own. His core team included a dozen
person had an equal voice in the team
were lone geniuses. In truth, the most
diverse and highly skilled artists and
strategy. Other people came and went
famous leaders worked with teams of
engineers working with him.
from the team, but over time, we built
our critical mass and became a winning
highly skilled people but, sadly, history
often just gave the leader credit for the
Building your team
breakthroughs of others.
When innovators are tasked with a
More recently, I was faced with a more
project-whether it's an incremental
challenging task as the convener of the
was a skilled marketer. In his absence,
improvement or a radical innovation-the
working group writing a new Interna-
Apple languished. But the early techni-
first and biggest challenge is deciding
tional Organization for Standardization
cal skill came from co-founder Steve
who should be on the team.
(ISO) standard. There was a member on
Take, for example, Steve Jobs, who
Wozniak, and the iPod was really only an
adaptation of the existing MP3 player.
A hundred years ago, Thomas Edison
In reality, you rarely have the luxury
of hand picking the perfect team. Most
of the time, you must work with what
the team who sought a radically different
outcome, and it caused some problems.
If these problems arise, you could
did not invent the light bulb, but he cre-
you're given. The job of leaders is to build
recourse to someone senior who can
ated one of the greatest research teams
these "gifts" into a cohesive team. Years
mitigate them. But also remember the
ago, somebody said to
old saying, "Keep your friends close and
me, "It's desire-not
your enemies closer." You must know
ability-that leads to
what people seeking different outcomes
success." Look at the
are thinking and doing, and you also need
people you are given and
those who agree with you to help bring
find the believers. These
your ideas to the table and stay focused
people are going to
on the mission.
make up your core team
and also provide you the
early win that will bring
The way you keep your core team mem-
those who may be less
bers committed is to give them what they
enthusiastic on board.
need to do their jobs. When I captained
In these early form-
the rugby team, what mattered most to
ing days, don't worry
the team was to never play a man short.
about structure. Give
If we lost a man on Saturday morning, I
people real jobs that
would break my back to get a replace-
will get them engaged.
ment to ensure we never played short.
When I first captained a
That built loyalty and commitment. Al-
rugby team, which has
ways ask yourself what your people most
15 members, I had a
need to get their jobs done.
core group of about six
Recently, I also was tasked with build-
people-a pack leader,
a back leader, the scrum
44 QP * www.qualityprogress.com
ing the ASQ Innovation Interest Group.
This team is different from those I've led
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - May 2014
Mr. Pareto Head
Making the Rounds
Plan of Attack
Measure for Measure
Quality in the First Person
One Good Idea
Quality Progress - May 2014