Being a team player in an innovation culture doesn’t mean playing along to get along; it means asking the tough questions and carefully considering the questions raised by others. It means challenging the sacred cows and unwritten assumptions that too often impede progress. It means making connections for the sake of making connections, because that’s the essence of creativity and no one can predict what new insights might result. Sometimes, it even means courageously challenging authority, when there’s a legitimate reason to do so.
In a healthy innovation culture, the newcomers and outsiders are welcomed and valued precisely because they’re not burdened by convention and habit, because they bring fresh insights and new questions; because they haven’t yet learned what’s “impossible.”
In your business, are you trusting people to make good independent decisions—and providing the requisite resources to support those decisions? Are you willing to loosen up on command and control in order to foster collaboration and flexibility? Do you encourage an ongoing dialogue over how to best achieve your objectives? The degree to which you do those things will to a great degree determine your ability to innovate.