According to Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, cities have historically been great drivers of innovation, because when people gather in close proximity, collaboration and ideas flow more easily. Given the advancements in communication technology, being in close proximity is not as important to spur innovation as perhaps it once was. In addition to communication, key drivers to innovation are teamwork and entrepreneurial leadership.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln investigated innovation and the impact on which teams and leadership have. You might be surprised to learn that organizational environment, team member characteristics, and team design were not among the variables listed as having a significant impact on team success. Those which did impact team success include demand of task, goal clarity, group process, understanding by team members of the different ways people work, and the project leader. This doesn’t seem like new information, since I was introduced to The Wisdom of Teams, written by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, more than 10 years ago. In my own experience with high performance teams, in many instances, the team leader was not appointed but emerged naturally through the dynamics of team interaction. According to Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., and Susan Williams, Ph.D., faculty members of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the keys to innovation in the 21st century are teamwork and entrepreneurial leadership. Reimers-Hild and Williams see the fundamental goal of an entrepreneurial leader as creating an atmosphere of innovation while helping followers to become more entrepreneurial.
This month’s Life Science Leader magazine is filled with entrepreneurial leaders. For example, Deirdre BeVard, VP development operations for Endo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENDP), reveals some of the strategies her company is using to create and sustain an innovative culture — see page 24. Another entrepreneurial leader, John Baldoni, works for GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK). Learn how this SVP of platform technology and science R&D created The Seekers — an idea-generation team developed to stimulate disruptive innovation and serve as a catalyst for not only creating tipping points, but creating them sooner — see page 18. Want more innovation inspiration? Check out this month’s Leadership Lessons article by Vijay Govindarajan, coauthor of the recently released Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere. Govindarajan was kind enough to send me three signed copies of his book to be given away in our monthly Ask The Board feature. Perhaps you will get a book to take while on holiday, along with the most recent issue of Life Science Leader, so you can generate some ideas in addition to working on your tan.