What Makes an Effective Team?

NewBoCo’s Intrapreneur Academy is a yearlong program designed to help organizations of all types kickstart their innovation journey with monthly workshops, innovation coaching, and membership into the innovation community. Throughout the program, we focus on NewBoCo’s four innovation competencies: agile, culture, methods, and strategy.

In Intrapreneur Academy, an organization sends a team of 4–6 people through as a team to learn more about these innovation competencies to inspire larger change across their organization. When we start working with a group interested in Intrapreneur Academy, one of their first questions is always about who to send through the program. While there’s no one size fits all solution for how to pick your team (just like there’s no one sort of organization that’s right for Intrapreneur Academy), we’ve identified qualities necessary for success on both an individual and team basis.

Building the Team

Our past Intrapreneur Academy cohorts followed several different theories when choosing the nature of their team composition, and we’ve seen success with all of them. The primary difference for teams came from the size of their organization. In smaller organizations, team members usually already worked closely together. For example, Woofables, a gourmet dog treat bakery, only had three full-time employees, so their entire organization actually participated on their Academy team.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Collins Aerospace employs almost 78,000 people. Their first Academy team was made of people with the same role in teams across their organization who did not work together previously. In the first two months of their Academy experience alone, both teams found new ways to help their organizations be more efficient and innovative. Since being a part of our first cohort in 2017, they have put at least one team through Academy every year. Having seen success with both extremes of team composition, we’ll push your organization to focus more heavily on selecting the right individuals to attend instead of the overall team makeup.

Team Member Qualities

When deciding on which individuals should join your Intrapreneur Academy team, looking at their titles won’t help you. We’ve found that an employee’s role or level of experience aren’t good predictors of success in this program. Instead, qualities that are harder to measure, like drive and initiative, are far more important. That being said, top down support is crucial for success.

  • If your organization has a designated list of high potential employees, that might be a great place to start! Intrapreneur Academy can be a way for you to help retain your high potential employees and keep them invested in the company.
  • We’re all busy, but the right candidate makes innovation a priority. They’re willing and able to commit to attending all workshops and tours.
  • Look for people who are willing to challenge the status quo. They should actively be trying to address flaws they see in your organization. Intrapreneur Academy is made for this sort of person — if they aren’t seeking to improve how things are now or interested in trying change, they may not be a good fit.
  • Being in Intrapreneur Academy needs to be a voluntary commitment. This can’t be remedial training.
  • Chose someone who asks “why” regularly. Successful participants always have questions to ask and are really seeking out insight and knowledge from each other and their speakers.
  • They shouldn’t have all the answers — and they should admit that! Don’t try to put people in Intrapreneur Academy that have a “this is the way it’s always been done” “we can’t do that” type attitude — this won’t fix that for them. Send people that want to go, see positive changes, and are excited to learn new things and take them back.

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