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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Using Groups to Create Company Innovation



Companies that don’t continue to improve eventually decline. Innovation fosters organizational transformation while encouraging the finding of new revenue streams. Research by Dew and Hearn (2009) help understand how hybrid groups can be as beneficial as nominal groups in promoting organizational innovation. Teams that work well together generate more ideas and find more solutions to organizational problems. 

Innovative development isn’t a wishful tactic. It has practical dollar and cents outcomes. Organizations that do not change, develop, grow, or adjust fall behind on the market. They stagnate while their competitors blast forward. Product development suffers and revenue declines. Innovation is about breathing new life into a company.

The very design of teams will determine their level of success. For example, social loafing occurs when one person doesn’t put enough effort into the team but receives the same benefits. Cognitive and social benefits from interaction can help in reducing the damaging effects of social loafing. Hybrid groups require individual effort during small group work while holding the entire focus group responsible to a bigger group. 

All groups are based on some level of interaction. The benefits of regular communication is that brainstorming in groups leads to more idea generation (Parnes & Meadow, 1959). Members build off of each other’s ideas to create new ideas. It is a process whereby one concept builds onto the next until a solution is forthcoming.

Before a problem can be solved it should be understood. Well defined problems can be converted to goals. Poor ideas are thrown out and the group settles on feasible solutions.  The generation of ideas offers opportunities to find and explore multiple solutions. 

The study included 672 participants and broke them into nominal and hybrid groups that engaged in problem solving. What they found was that hybrid groups work well and can be more effective for fostering innovation under the right circumstances. When group members are focused in small nominal groups, but must interact with larger groups, they are capable of creating greater idea generation and performance accountability. 

Dew, R. & Hearn, G. (2009). A new model of the learning process for innovation teams: networked nominal pairs. International Journal of Innovation Management, 13 (4). 

Parnes, SJ and A Meadow (1959). Effect of “brainstorming” instructions on creative problem
solving by trained and untrained subjects. Journal of Educational Psychology, 50, 171–
176.

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