How To Innovate With Distributed Teams

Innovation is everybody’s business, and it’s more challenging with a distributed team. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen – it just has to be designed and engineered into your work practices.

Some innovation happens by design (in R&D departments, market research, and so on), but much of it comes from individuals in your organisation, just having good ideas, sharing them, and having them implemented. This “spontaneous” innovation is more important than ever before, and relies on a strong innovation culture in your team (and even better, in the organisation as a whole).

There’s a common belief that innovation and synergy are weaker in distributed teams, because people don’t bump into each other to spark great ideas. Companies like Google and Apple work very hard to create these opportunities, and insist that everybody works in-­office. Because they are very innovative organisations, some people seem to think that’s the only way.

However, that’s not necessarily true. It is possible to create a culture of innovation in a distributed team, as long as you overcome the natural “out of sight, out of mind” bias against your distributed workers.

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