Team building requires time and effort. 21st century teams should be creative and innovative; their leaders should be able to integrate their knowledge and skills into the team’s agenda. It is not easy to create an effective team; leaders must be confident that the team members will be interdependent and will be committed to achieving the team’s strategic objectives. To develop creative and innovative teams, leaders should possess sound leadership skills and should be able to objectively evaluate the changing organizational needs. Creative and innovative teams will form cohesive unions with various organizational structures, to satisfy various organizational needs, and to facilitate the process of achieving strategic business objectives.
Contemporary business organizations need effective creative and innovative teams. In flexible business and market conditions, static organizational relations are no longer relevant. Teams are no longer the instruments for rapid career moves; on the contrary, team organizational perspectives are widened to bring innovation into business performance and to use these innovative ideas to generate additional profits. “Team building is an effort in which a team studies its own process of working together and acts to create a climate that encourages and values the contributions of team members” (Bateman, 1990). Innovation implies the need to regularly update and evaluate organizational achievements of a particular team. Team members should be given sufficient freedom to move within the team. High level of interdependence between team members is the necessary characteristic of a creative team. Innovation implies the need to open the team to other potential team players, who may develop new ideas and suggestions and turn these ideas into new business strategies. Innovation in teams can also be driven by swapping “members between existing teams in order to deepen understanding of the broader field” (Belbin, 2002).
To develop creative and innovative teams, all team resources should be focused; all team members should be concentrated around the same task or issue. Proactive rather than reactive approach will form the fundamental framework for integrating creativity, innovation, and team building in any type of organization. “When individuals adopt this attitude and commit to use their resources, knowledge, and skills to contribute to the goals of the team, alignment with the team’s overall purpose comes about” (Bateman, 1990). Very often, motivation, creativity, and innovation go hand in hand. Motivation makes team members prepared to changes, and encourages creativity at all levels of team performance. Here, mutual assessment may become a useful instrument for evaluating the extent to which the team is creative and innovative. Mutual assessment is the means of evaluating the quality of team’s performance, where team members and the leader accept mutual responsibility for achieving strategic organizational objectives, and where all team members provide each other with timely feedback and are able to identify possible innovation gaps in team performance. When employees are empowered, they are encouraged to be innovative and creative. Empowerment encourages team members to make their innovative ideas public, to assess them and to use them to achieve certain organizational goals. Mutual feedback is the key to close group interaction; group interaction is the direct pathway to generating new ideas and promoting creativity in team work. “Good ideas are followed up, and people are rewarded for innovative risk taking” (Bateman, 1990) – that is one of the critical elements of creative team building. As a result, motivation, empowerment, recognition, and reward form a complex set of conditions that favor creativity in team building and guarantee that team members are open to innovations.
It should be noted that creative teams are impossible without creative and innovative leaders. Managers and leaders are the sources of innovation; the team leader is “the liaison between the team and upper management” (Bateman, 1990). The team leader is the person who controls the process of generating innovative ideas and is able to obtain the necessary support from the upper management. Very often, creative teams deny the principles of traditional organizational hierarchy. Managers may cease to be the central element of a creative team. Technology may replace substantial portion of manager’s functions, but it cannot replace innovation, creativity, and leadership. Creativity and innovation in teams requires that leaders are fully committed to what their teams must accomplish. “Thoughtful leaders will have to think more about the nature of accountability and about how responsibilities can best be transferred to well-constructed teams” (Belbin, 2002). Innovation requires that the leader is able to find the correct decision-making balance, when employees are empowered to bring innovative ideas into life, but are also aware of the boundaries of their organizational responsibilities and obligations. When the leader is the central element of innovation, when the leader regularly provides objective feedback, and when the leader is able to transfer team members’ ideas to the upper levels of the company’s organizational structure, all team members will always receive necessary support and assistance. “One of the most powerful forces is to put forward, in cooperation with team members, an exciting vision / purpose of what the team is to achieve” (Bateman, 1990). This vision will further encourage team members to be creative whenever this creativity is beneficial for the team’s performance. In the cohesive union between the team, the leader, the upper management, and with motivation and empowerment serving the driving force, creativity and innovation will turn into the two essential elements of any team structure.
Creative and innovative teams are developed, when employees are empowered and motivated. The leader should serve the liaison between the upper management and the team’s creative ideas. Creativity is the result of the balanced decision-making. Team performance objectives should be regularly updated to guarantee that all team members are working on the same organizational task. Team cohesiveness and team openness to external ideas are the essential factors of creativity and innovation at all levels of team performance.
Bateman, A. (1990). Team building: developing a productive team. Retrieved September 13,
2008 from http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/Misc/cc352.htm#aft
Belbin, M. (2002). Teams in the 21st century: how do we define their role? Retrieved
September 13, 2008 from http://www.innovativeteambuilding.co.uk/pages/articles/21stcentury.htm