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Managing innovation talent & teams in challenging times

28 April 2020

Precautions taken to combat corona have led to an immense impact on business activities. Innovators and innovation teams are also heavily affected, ranging from teams being dismissed to teams taking center stage to help transform their organisations to survive. If at all, how should businesses manage and scout entrepreneurial talent in these times? In this webinar summary we share our insights into how to empower and motivate entrepreneurial talent and teams in these times of social distance.

Figure 1: The Innovation Framework

Innovation excellence as a capability requires a systemic perspective. Our Innovation Framework (see Figure 1) contains eight essential components that are essential for driving innovation excellence. In previous webinars we already discussed some of the elements in this framework, such as Innovation Leadership, Innovation Processes & Metrics, and the content of your innovation system which refers to Innovation Focus, Innovation Vision and Innovation Intensity. In this subsequent webinar, the area of Talent Development and Teams was discussed for developing and maintaining innovation excellence.

Stimulate intrinsic motivation

It is only natural in these times where innovation projects come under scrutiny, that your team members might feel anxious, uncertain and distracted – which could take a toll on your productivity levels. So how can you still motivate and energize your team and people remotely?

In our innovation programmes we use the RAMP model, which identifies four intrinsic motivators that are central to employee engagement and should act as the foundation for your innovation team.

R = Relatedness. The desire to feel part of a group.

A = Autonomy. The desire to have freedom in making your own decisions.

M = Mastery. The desire to improve skills and develop expertise.

P = Purpose. The desire for meaningful work that is related to a higher cause.

When we work from home, we have fewer opportunities for interaction, which can leave employees feeling socially and professionally isolated. It is therefore more important than ever to address relatedness by staying connected to your team as much as possible using online tools. For the intrinsic motivation of autonomy, this situation brings advantages. Working from home usually means employees have greater autonomy over how they do their work, including the hours and conditions of their work.

Refocusing your innovation portfolio, for instance by discovering new opportunities, brings opportunities for people in your team to master new skills and grow. As they are engaging in different types of innovation activities, this brings an opportunity to experiment with different capabilities too. Looking at purpose, we see organisations and municipalities that are increasingly striving for a ‘green recovery’; a more sustainable way of working. Even though we don’t know what the future holds, a communication style that reflects progress and positivity about a (sustainable) future can be an important way to motivate people.

Talent Development & Scouting

Figure 2: The Group Effectiveness Model. Adapted from Hackman (1987) and Sundstrom, De Meuse, and Futtrell (1990).

In this rapidly changing time, it is more important than ever to create and encourage an entrepreneurial mindset for an innovative and change-embracing team. In our innovation programmes, we use model of the European Commission (the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework) as a reference framework to explain what is meant by an entrepreneurial mindset. The model has been developed to provide an understanding for entrepreneurship education within the EU. The framework builds a foundation for identifying relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes that comprise an entrepreneurial mindset. There are three major competence areas, which are subdivided into 15 competences each:

  1. Ideas & Opportunities
  2. Researches, and
  3. Into Action.

Looking at the Mastery motivator of the RAMP model, we can conclude that people are driven to engage in activities that help them improve their skills and develop expertise. To encourage mastery, it can be helpful to look at the entrepreneurship competences and reflect upon it with your team. What competencies are already present in your team? And what other competencies are needed in your team and need to be developed, especially in these times? Reflecting on these competencies, such as coping with ambiguity & risk, can help you motivate your team to grow.

Team Performance

Figure 3: The Group Effectiveness Model. Adapted from Hackman (1987) and Sundstrom, De Meuse, and Futtrell (1990).

Your team is the most important component of entrepreneurial success. A relevant model to use for determining team performance is The Group Effectiveness Model. The model shows that it is not just about evaluating a team based on their performance when it comes to the particular product or service that is being produced by the team, but it is also about the growth and development of the people in the team themselves, previously discussed as ‘Mastery’. Additionally, the model describes the process as an important factor for group effectiveness, which refers to the group’s ability to work together. In this time when we are all of a sudden forced to work from home, with new means, new tools etc., the ability to develop your group process should take priority.

Groups cannot be either effective or ineffective; group effectiveness is measured on a continuum and in this model is a function of three factors: group process, group structure, and group context. These three factors acts as the drivers of group effectiveness. Focusing on the ability of the team to become better at working remotely, we should – according to the model – look at processes like how the team works together. To be effective, a group must manage a number of processes, from problem solving to boundary management. Recognizing the process as an important indicator of group effectiveness and acting upon this, gives you the opportunity to be more agile and grow as a team in these challenging times.

Curious to find out more? Watch the complete webinar recording here.


Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing more insights on a variety of innovation and leadership topics, via blogs and webinars, all focused on practical skills and tools that help you lead innovation excellence in uncertain times like these. Keep an eye on this webpage to stay tuned.

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