Last month we discussed team diversity and how market researchers can use a diverse team to improve their innovation process. This month we’ll talk about creating a safe space for innovation and how safe spaces support diverse teams and help market researchers to improve their innovation process.
Why is a safe space for innovation important for innovation in market research?
A diverse team is crucial for innovation as it combines different ways of thinking that lead to new products and services with limited intellectual blindness. However, diverse teams need a safe environment to flourish and prevent conflict in teams where there are many different views and perspectives.
Diverse teams need to feel safe so they can propose new ideas and harness the advantages of the 4 types of innovations which you can read more about in my expert channel. But what do we mean by safety?
Psychological safety plays a big part in creating a safe space for team members to work together. Being psychologically safe is when you can speak truthfully without fear and not feel that you’re taking an interpersonal risk when you have an opinion.
A positive team climate is the most important driver of psychological safety and is most likely to occur when leaders demonstrate supportive, consultative behaviours, and then begin to challenge their teams. ~ From Mckinsey.com
There are two main fundamental principles that teams that are psychologically safe have
1. Open communication
Everyone on the team has an equal chance to voice their opinion. Even on uncomfortable topics, team members are allowed to freely communicate their feelings and be actively listened to.
2. Mutual empathy
Team members are socially sensitive, and respectful of each other’s emotions and opinions. Additionally, they can provide productive responses to both emotion and opinion
Why? Psychological safety is the foundation of inclusion and the key to creating a safe space for innovation which diverse teams need for exploration, and experimentation without fear of reprisal. So how can you create it?
5 things you and your team can do that lead to a safe space for innovation
1. Respond constructively to news, ideas, and emotions
Whether it’s good or bad news, ideas, and emotions, you and the team must respond constructively to help one another solve a problem. If you do reject a team member’s ideas or suggestions, explain why. Your constructive response will ensure that your teammate will continue to be proactive in generating ideas.
It’s important that all team members remember that you’re all on a journey together to solve a problem. Doing so creates a supportive environment that enables people to take risks and generate new ideas.
2. Let teammates step beyond their roles
Allowing teammates to contribute outside their role allows them to build confidence in the team and team members feel that they can connect with their team on a wider scale. Additionally, team members stepping outside their roles break silos and create more opportunities for divergent thinking. This helps unleash a team’s diverse talent. And it also helps to develop multidisciplinary individuals that can support one another.
3. Do not compete amongst each other
There are no winners or losers in the team. Every team member in a diverse team has a different role to fulfill and one cannot do without the other. While each team member could have personal career ambitions, they should understand that their role contributes to their team’s success and failure. This in turn affects them.
4. Reframing failure
Encourage team members to fail and try new things. Doing so allows failure to be transformed from mistakes into a huge learning opportunity or uncovering something different or new.
Reframing failure like this also gives teams the confidence to think and act differently. By reframing failures as part of the journey, team members will be open about their failures and share them to help the team to learn and improve.
5. Invite feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool, and many innovative teams use it. Feedback can be given at the end of each project to improve on the process teams have been through. But giving feedback isn’t easy. And the person receiving it needs to give time and attention to the person providing it.
Next month we talk about DUL – Doing Understanding Learning and how to move innovation forward through doing and learning.