In the IDEO innovation room, there is no leadership hierarchy. In fact they believe that having a seniority ladder of positions would be counterproductive as the leader will not have insightful knowledge about everything. There have a more teamwork and innovation approach to leadership, which has been successfully implemented. Even the main facilitator is just a contributing member of the group whereas the boss works alongside others as a member contributing equally to the project. The only bar that he has set in the room is that the members have to be unusually original in their thought and has to be able to challenge his own concept about the project.
“You have to involve, in some way, everyone who must live with the results, and you must make it possible for others to do good work. (Kouzes & Posner, 2003, p. 13)”
All of team members have been given responsibility to contribute to the project. This strategy also known as locos of control makes all the members equally invested in the project and they are motivated to give more to reach the goal. There is however one golden rule and that is no one can criticize the ideas of others but has to build on their ideas. This leadership strategy brings the group together even in the height of the chaotic innovation process when all are tired.
It is clearly evident that the power of Innovation at IDEO is closely linked with the teamwork. The team is formed with member from various background. Some hold an MBA degree, while others are linguist, a biology major student, a marketing expert, an engineer and even a psychologist of different age groups. At first glance, it would be difficult to judge the competency of the group based on the back ground of the members. But the one thing they have in common is that they are all open minded and focused on the project which bring a synergic bond for tackling the designing issues of the grocery cart. Their team work even extends to the outskirt of the room premises to the people who are directly involved in using and repairing these carts.
“As a result, the successful teamwork, its high cohesion and performance, is only possible on the grounds of enabling the staff’s potential. In achieving that goal, the leadership and team-building promote not only the engagement of managers and company’s staff in the innovation processes but also, in different forms, of clients, suppliers, society or state representatives and local communities . (ADEEB, 2017)”
An autocratic leadership or a traditional structure of authority where decisions are handed down from the higher up could affect the flow of the innovation and would cripple the outcome in IDEO. A leadership practice where the lone leader sits at the top, gives decisions without working together with the group cannot foster an environment, as seen in the IDEO room, where teamwork can survive. Without a good team work, the members will not be motivated to work to their optimum potential and the innovation would gradually degrade. As pointed out by the project leader at IDEO “Enlightened trial and error succeeds over lone genius.”
It is however difficult to point out that certain type of leadership bring about innovation while other types does not. In IDEO the leadership trait encourages people to contribute their thoughts making them an equal part of the final output. Sill it is difficult to ascertain that a leadership trait and approach is directly related to better innovation and teamwork. “However, research on leadership styles offers instructive insights regarding the specific effects of various means that are relevant for innovations. There are relevant insights on how to produce specific effects regarding attitudes, mindset, trust, behavior, competence creation, etc. (Kesting, Ulhøi, Song, & Niu, 2015, p. 35)” At the end of the day it is the team that trust each other, gives equal amount of focus and works with an open mind and be constructive even through the chaotic process of what innovation stands for will succeed.
ADEEB, M. (2017). INNOVATION MANAGEMENT: THE IMPORTANCE OF LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK IN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS. Economica , 52.
Kesting, P., Ulhøi, J. P., Song, L. J., & Niu, H. (2015). The impact of leadership styles on innovation management - a review and a synthesis. Journal of Innovation Management , 22-24.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2003). The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. In B. P. Jim Kouzes, Leadership Challenge Workbook (First Edition ed., p. 13). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.