Innovation is no longer optional. Bala Nemani, CEO, and founder of Amzur Technologies discussed why at length in his recent article, Enact Your Vision: Build and Manage Your Modern Innovation Team.
In short, rethinking innovation for your business is vital to its long-term success. In building a modern innovation team—whose sole purpose is coming up with and executing on the latest and greatest ideas to propel your business into the future—you must keep your mind open and your eyes on the horizon.
This is because changing a business model to focus on innovation means that, even if a company already has innovative people, it may have some skill gaps. Or maybe it needs a team dedicated to innovation, rather than shifting focus for existing employees whose skills are valued elsewhere. This is where HR professionals come in.
Innovation Versus Traditional Teams
Even for the most experienced HR professionals, putting together an effective, modern innovation team can be a challenge. It requires first understanding of what one is and how it differs from traditional teams. Traditional teams comprise groups of experts in a certain area; if you had a software team, for example, it would be wise to make sure your best coders are working on it.
Innovation teams differ because they thrive on diversity; not just cultural diversity, but the diversity of thought and experience as well. An effective innovation team brings together experts from various areas, including information technology, design, marketing, and more, to discuss their biggest ideas in a safe environment.
So step one is building that environment in which innovative thought can thrive, which, at many companies, can be a larger task than you might expect.
Building Teams of Thought Leaders
Before setting out to build a team, figure out how your company needs to innovate. This can be tricky, as innovation is all about thinking outside the box—changing from “what have we done before?” to “what can we do from here?”—but as HR professionals, you know your company’s domain, and you know the directions in which it wants to expand. Think inside the box while building a plan, setting goals, and writing job descriptions, then think outside the box while hiring. Here are a few important steps to accomplish this:
- Start with leadership buy-in. Without support from leaders, an innovation team cannot thrive. Buy-in is needed at every level.
- Keep an open mind, always. Once you settle on a path forward, let it guide you, but don’t let it control you. Stay flexible, noting and evaluating ideas and individuals that are different from what you might usually choose for your business.
- Look beyond the resume. Remember that a resume cannot tell you everything you need to know about a candidate. The ensuing conversations and interviews can provide a chance to meet the real person . . . if you ask the right questions.
Essentially, when it comes to innovation teams, you want people who want more than just a job. You want people with vision. Only after coming to terms with that approach can you start building a team of individuals who can perform beyond their skill sets—who can truly innovate.
But how do you find those people in a sea of faces that might not be the right fit? How do you pin down a set of candidates for such nebulous roles?
Using Tools and Building Partnerships
As you know, the interview process doesn’t always go smoothly. This can be especially true for innovation teams. Imagine sifting through hundreds of resumes, looking for the few perfect individuals who not only have skills needed in specific areas but will also be able to bring revolutionary new ideas to fruition. What do you ask that person? How do you figure out if they’re the right fit?
Amzur has extensive experience finding and vetting such professionals, who can go above and beyond the needs of the company they serve. We use innovative tools and processes to screen and interview candidates, ensuring you get the best fit for each role. We’re not the only choice out there, but companies that use us tend to stick with us.
With innovation teams, success relies on the right people in the right roles as much as leadership buy-in and keeping an open mind. If you want to go it alone, that’s your call. But a trusted partner can be a light in the darkness. It can be the difference between a team that succeeds and one that fails.
Sam Velu, Head of IT Talent Acquisition at Amzur Technologies, is an industry veteran with over 20 years in the staffing business. At Amzur, Velu specializes in promoting high-quality and high-value technology services that optimize business growth. He values community and economic advancement, as shown when he served on the Hamilton Business District in Franklin, New Jersey, to attract new businesses to invest in the city.