Comments for Build and lead effective innovation teams: balancing acts

Dehon Benjamin, Demoulin Sylvain, Goffin Clément, Jonet Claire, Poncelet Antoine

Cooney, T. M. (2005). What is an entrepreneurial team? International Small Business Journal, 23(3), 226-236.

Workshop 01 In the company, a question always debates: "what is an entrepreneurial team? Many researches showed that a team was realized around a person and that the entrepreneur saw himself as a hero like for example Steve Jobs. However, our article provides us with a completely different definition of what an entrepreneurial enterprise is to know, "two or more…
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Workshop 01

In the company, a question always debates: “what is an entrepreneurial team? Many researches showed that a team was realized around a person and that the entrepreneur saw himself as a hero like for example Steve Jobs. However, our article provides us with a completely different definition of what an entrepreneurial enterprise is to know, “two or more people who have a significant financial interest and actively participate in the development of the business.” So, to form a business team, all members must be actively involved, have ambitious financial interests and respect a certain team dynamic.
The concept of a business team has several managerial implications. First of all, when developing a business plan, it is very important for the team to answer who, what, why and for whom before starting the project. Then, a team of entrepreneurs is not fixed during their life and can evolve over time. Due to the dynamic nature of a company, people can arrive during the project and others can leave at any time. There is therefore some flexibility as to the number of members within the team and when to join and / or leave this team. Afterwards and in connection with the previous point, it is therefore necessary that the composition of a team of entrepreneurs must be well balanced. The skills of each member of the team must be diverse to avoid conflicts between people with skills in the same field. Therefore, a team of entrepreneurs must possess a variety of financial, experiential, mental and emotional resources.
Moreover, the concept of entrepreneurial team is bound to certain limits. Firstly, enterprise teams will not have the same effects in sectors where the individual himself will be much more important, such as the craft sector where the individual does everything himself. Secondly, in small and non-innovative firms, it will be difficult to set up an entrepreneurial team because of the number of employees, but also because it is useless to create one for this kind of company. And finally, to build a business team, team members must have financial interests. However, in non-profit organizations, the goal is not lucrative, that would mean that the concept of entrepreneurial team does not apply for this kind of company?

Further references:
– Mol, E., Khapova, S. N., & Elfring, T. (2015). Entrepreneurial team cognition: A review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 17(2), 232-255.

This article first provides a definition of cognition in an entrepreneurial team and then shows how a team with better cognition than another can provide better results.

– Kollmann, T., Stöckmann, C., Meves, Y., & Kensbock, J. M. (2017). When members of entrepreneurial teams differ: Linking diversity in individual-level entrepreneurial orientation to team performance. Small Business Economics, 48(4), 843-859.

This article focuses on the different entrepreneurial ways of acting of the team members and shows that these various methods of action have a significant impact on the team’s performance.

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BROGNION Valentine, LEBFEVRE Mathilde, MARTIN Maurice, SOTTIAUX Alicia, VANDEPUT Virgile

Deschamps, J. P. (2005). Different leadership skills for different innovation strategies. Strategy & Leadership, 33(5), 31-38.

This paper identifies two types of innovation leaders, the front-end and the back-end. The first ones are more curious, they think out-of-the box and they have a certain level of failure and risks tolerance. The seconds are more focus on rigor, discipline in planning and execution. Then, it also presents two types of innovations: the bottom-up innovations (coming from employees…
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This paper identifies two types of innovation leaders, the front-end and the back-end. The first ones are more curious, they think out-of-the box and they have a certain level of failure and risks tolerance. The seconds are more focus on rigor, discipline in planning and execution. Then, it also presents two types of innovations: the bottom-up innovations (coming from employees around organizational culture, taking risks, experimenting, sharing information and learning from failures) and the top-down innovations (when decisions come from the top managers and need to be execute by employees). The last point concerns the differentiation between four innovations dimensions. The totally new product category or service offering requires a strong commitment from the leaders in charge of it, the new/improved customer solution or customer system needs to be coached by a manager with a deep-understanding of the market, with a certain sensitivity and charisma. The totally new business model or system business is a powerful way to enhance a business. It needs a pragmatic architect-type leader. The new/improved product, process or service offering category is the most practiced and is the only one generally proceeded in bottom-up mode. The leader needs to be demanding yet supportive.

We can pull two implications from this paper. The first means the companies need to plan innovation and know exactly the way they are going to innovate (strategy) in order to define what are the best people to drive this innovation. It can be done by developing the human resource system, being able to identify people with the right set of skills that will fit the strategy. Then, innovation has many steps through its whole process and every processes require different sets of skills capabilities from the “leader” of the innovation. That’s why it has to be driven by a dedicated team without hierarchical level.

We outlined some limitations in this paper. To be able to recruit appropriate people to innovate, companies need to identify potential workers having the required skills. Even if some tests such as MBTI or Enneagram exist, it is very hard to have an objective identification of these. Then, we think that firms don’t always require the same type of people even if they follow the same strategy. Depending on the location, industry or size of the company, the skills needed to innovate can be differents. On the one hand the text suggests to have a better balance between top-down and bottom-up innovation, and on the other hand it only outlines one situation out of four where a bottom-up innovation can majoritarly be done. It shows the difficulties to develop these types of innovation even if we hear more and more its importance in this process. Finally, the text teach who are the right people to hire depending on four strategies. However innovation is way broader than this. That’s why to go a bit further it can be interesting to develop other situations and see the type of leaders required to deal with it.

To go further:

Herstad, S. J., Sandven, T., & Ebersberger, B. (2015). Recruitment, knowledge integration and modes of innovation. Research Policy, 44(1), 138-153.

Hotho, S., & Champion, K. (2011). Small businesses in the new creative industries: innovation as a people management challenge. Management Decision, 49(1), 29-54.

Saari, E., Lehtonen, M., & Toivonen, M. (2015). Making bottom-up and top-down processes meet in public innovation. The Service Industries Journal, 35(6), 325-344.

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Students

Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), 19-31.

1. Key insights Many types of leadership behaviours can be observed, 44 according to the text. Among those various types, 2 main traits have come out: organizing work and showing consideration. After a focus is made on two kinds of leaderships. A transactional leader is based on the rewards for the good performance, and efforts done by the employees. However, when employees…
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1. Key insights
Many types of leadership behaviours can be observed, 44 according to the text. Among those various types, 2 main traits have come out: organizing work and showing consideration.
After a focus is made on two kinds of leaderships. A transactional leader is based on the rewards for the good performance, and efforts done by the employees. However, when employees de not achieve the expected goals, the leader will take corrective actions towards the concerned employees. So, the transactional leader operates only when the objectives are not met. This kind of leadership is a passive management and less effective than the transformational leadership.
Due to the bad consequences of this leadership on the organization and the employees, a new model of leadership is born: transformational leadership. These leaders are characterised by three main components. First, a charismatic behaviour that permits leaders to inspire their employees and motivate them. Moreover, employees identifying themselves with a charismatic leader have a high level of trust and respect. Second, they meet the emotional needs of employees and pay close attention to their personality by treating each employee individually. Finally, the leader must stimulate intellectually the employees through trainings to help them resolve problems and find rational solutions.
To conclude, transformational leaders create a better atmosphere and relationships with all people in the organization. Therefore, the employees are more motivated to do some extra effort and make better results in the company.
2. Managerial implications
-Training: Practical training that teaches people how to become transformational leaders.
EX: The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire & Workshops.
Limit: However, the personality of a manager will affect its ability to switch from a transactional leader to a transformational leader. Some might immediately acknowledge their errors in leadership. For others, a workshop might not be enough and these would need more time for it to sink in.
– Give importance, from the beginning, to new recruits: Many managers who were highly rated by their supervisors reported that they had been given challenging assignments by their initial supervisor.
-Managers should generate awareness and acceptance of the purpose and mission of the group. By encouraging employees to look beyond their self-interest. A Dashboard could help with this task.
3. General Limits
– Firms that are functioning in stable markets, with stable workforce and technology can afford to depend on a day-to-day leadership. Also, when there are clear rules and regulations for getting things done, and when they are clearly understood and accepted by the employees, leadership could be eliminated under some circumstances.
– Some people are used to receive very clear and precise indications from their manager about the task they have to do. That’s why, a good leader needs to discover the way each employee prefers to be motivated and adapt his leadership style to every single employee.
4. Others references
1) Smy, V., Shelton, K., Tombs, M. & Patrick, J. (2016). Perceived transformational leadership, instructor behaviors, and motivation to learn: a mediated model. Le travail humain, vol. 79, (2), 169-185. doi:10.3917/th.792.0169.
2) Deluga, R. J. (2010). The Effects of Transformational, Transactional, and Laissez Faire Leadership Characteristics on Subordinate Influencing Behavior. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Vol. 11, 191-203.
3) Hayes, L. (2015). Transforming transformational leadership. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3sEybeRzZI.

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Nicolas Farmakidis, Samuel Hoarau, Louise Ledent, Loic van Damme

Hill, L. A., Brandeau, G., Truelove, E., & Lineback, K. (2014). Collective genius.

This paper explains that the role of a leader is to create a more innovative organization. An innovative leader needs to create a community inside the company. And for innovation to happen, the community has to be willing and able to innovate over time. The willingness comes from the mix between the purpose of the company, the shared values and…
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This paper explains that the role of a leader is to create a more innovative organization. An innovative leader needs to create a community inside the company. And for innovation to happen, the community has to be willing and able to innovate over time.
The willingness comes from the mix between the purpose of the company, the shared values and the rule of engagement. The purpose will drive the company in the right direction. It is about having a collective identity and what it means for the employees to be part of the company. The values shared by the group will influence its actions and allow the individuals to set priorities and make thoughtful choices. Four main values are embraced by most innovative organizations: bold ambition, responsibility to the community, collaboration and learning. Finally, the rule of engagement will keep all the members focused on what’s imperative and encourage activities that foster innovation. In practice, this is applied through the process to give everyone in the community a voice to influence the decisions and to allow everyone to question everything. These steps in the leadership approach allow to build a community. However, organization willingness is necessary but not sufficient for innovation to happen.
To foster innovation, a community also needs the ability to make it happen. And that ability is composed of a set of 3 specific capabilities: the creative abrasion, the creative agility and the creative resolution. First, the community needs creative abrasion. This means that ideas should be generated through debate thanks to the intellectual diversity and intellectual conflict. Second, the community should encourage creative agility for discovery-driven learning through experimentations and plan-adjustments. Finally, creative resolution is essential to integrate the different ideas in the decision making process.

In other words, the main idea of this paper is that leaders of innovation are creators of a context in which others make innovation happen. They let each individual take the role that put their skills on display and provide them with the experiences and the tools they need to both unleash and harness the individual genius. This hypothesis leads to some interesting managerial implications.
First, special workshops for the community’s individuals can be held in order to enhance their willingness. Indeed, through those workshop, employees will be remembered of the purpose, shared values and engagement rule. But the limit of those workshops is that it might lead to only incremental changes and not radical innovations. Furthermore, if some people have completely opposite positions, it might not lead to a compromise and rather slow down the decision making process.
Second, the leaders must give a higher autonomy to their team in order to enhance these individuals’ creative agility. However, the right balance must be found as too much autonomy might decrease the focus or even lead to products which aren’t answering any customer need.
Finally, leaders might consider to make different teams participate in different stages of a product process. This change in the work of process, by adding more insight views, might increase the product’s acceptance by the consumers. Still, the leaders need to consider the downside of the approach. Indeed, it might slow down the process of decision making and thus slow down the launch of the product. Thus, in rapidly evolving markets were the product launches must be as quick as possible, this is not advised.

— New sources identified–
• This book will give more in-depth information regarding the creative abrasion process, which is one of the tools to create and sustain knowledge flows.
Leonard-Barton, D. (1995). Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation. Havard Business School Press, Boston.
• This article will allow the students to make a link between the shared values, needed to enhance the willingness, and the intellectual diversity, needed to have an effective creative abrasion. Indeed, this study analyses whether or not different personal and contextual characteristics complement each order to enhance innovation.
Miron, E; Erez, M. & Naveh, E. (2004). Do personal characteristics and cultural values that promote innovation, quality, and efficiency compete or complement each other? Journal of organizational behavior, 25(2), 175-199.
• As explained, experimentation enhances innovation as it part of the creative agility process. This book explains that every company’s ability to innovate depends on the possibility to experiment in order to create new or improve existing products and services.
Thomke, S. (2003). Experimentation matters: unlocking the potential of new technologies for innovation. Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

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