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The innovative capacity of an organization is typically realized through unit-level teams. Previous studies correlate innovation performance with cultural diversity of…
The innovative capacity of an organization is typically realized through unit-level teams. Previous studies correlate innovation performance with cultural diversity of teams, but note that team dynamics need to be optimized to derive maximum benefit. Herein, this study offers an assessment of available team building instruments through the lens of diverse innovation teams. In a demonstration project in the pharmaceutical industry, this study then outlines specific tools and approaches which can be successfully deployed through team coaching and mentoring.
A cluster of nine innovation teams with varying degrees of cultural diversity was provided with assessment and management instruments which had been identified and field tested by a mentoring team. Content included cultural awareness tools, innovation team profiling methods and Team Science (SciTS) ideology. Teams were funded, coached and mentored through a six-month performance period and assessed at regular intervals.
Team assessments provided correlations between performance (measured by project completion and new intellectual property generated) and diversity together with wealth of information on intra-team culture and dynamics. Concrete recommendations from the study include adoption of appropriate communication standards to promote inclusivity, use of SciTS operational tracking metrics to enhance engagement, use of the FourSight group profiling methodology and cultural quotient scale cultural awareness instruments at team-forming stage to promote effective dynamics and enhance inclusivity.
Cultural diversity has a positive impact on innovation teams. This said, for maximum benefit cultural awareness of team members should be optimized to avoid unintended conflicts developing. Such issues can be exacerbated when teams are deployed remotely and preventative measures should be established. These issues became of heightened significance as a result of telecommuting imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and have longer-term implications, as corporations consider global air travel reduction through environmental concerns. A tracking tool is described to monitor team engagement and promote inclusivity. It is expected that the learnings can influence how teams can best form, normalize and operate within corporate innovation programs and form the basis of long-term impact studies.
This represents the first systematic study on the impact of cultural diversity and team dynamics within innovation programs in the pharmaceutical industry. The tools and methodologies deployed are widely available and can be adopted by innovation teams in many adjacent industries with established innovation ecosystems.
Though there is broad agreement on the beneficial impact of diversity in management and leadership roles, much of the innovative capacity of an organization is realized at…
Though there is broad agreement on the beneficial impact of diversity in management and leadership roles, much of the innovative capacity of an organization is realized at the unit level in working teams. Recent research points to cultural diversity having an especially significant impact on innovation team performance. The reports also highlight the need for the optimal team operating principles to derive maximum benefit. To prepare such innovation teams for success, it is valuable to understand the dynamics of team diversity at the project level and the underlying barriers and opportunities presented.
This paper reviews the literature and case studies on cultural inputs to ideation and innovation, assessing team diversity through readily available instruments and the deployment of the science of team science (SciTS) principles in innovation teams.
The key learnings include the importance of establishing communication standards, SciTS principles, team assessment of thinking styles and the utility of cultural awareness instruments.
Diversity provides a creative advantage for innovation teams. However, team dynamics play an important role in maximizing these advantages, and cross-cultural competence of team members is required. Deployment of appropriate assessment tools and team methodologies enhances the likelihood of successful outcomes including in remote team settings.
Literature from diverse functional areas is summarized including the science of team science, organizational management, diversity and inclusion methodologies and ethnocultural dynamics. It provides pointers for the optimal formation and operating principles with highly culturally diverse teams.