A colleague send me this rather interesting excerpt on Innovation, hope this proves to be good reading for some of you.

Innovation: Using externally-oriented or ‘X’ teams can prove a winning strategy

Good teams can often fail when it comes to innovation. That’s the message from a new book by INSEAD Assistant Professor Henrik Bresman and MIT Professor Deborah Ancona. The reason such teams fail is not because of a lack of talent or they can’t work together, but because they don’t take into account external stakeholders and conditions.

“Good teams often fail because they don’t work consistently and effectively outside their own boundaries,” Bresman says.

“Yes, the team members look outside for information or help when they feel they really need it, but partly as a result of the internal model they’re carrying around in their heads, they just don’t see external activity as a central part of their mission, their mindset, their modus operandi.”

The authors argue that this is why externally-focused or so-called ‘X-teams’ are needed. According to Bresman, X-teams “balance their internal activity with an equal commitment to external activity. They’re different from traditional teams because they go outside from day one. They keep going outside throughout their lifecycle. The actual balance between internal and external activity shifts as work requires but the external mindset is always there, always present.”

“By being so externally focused, X-teams are far better able to identify the forces out there in the world and their own large organization that can affect their success. They’re better able to identify emerging needs and opportunities they can exploit. They’re better able to build connections to management and to other groups within their company to ensure their work is always seen as valuable and to ensure that they get the political, financial and other support that they need to support to succeed.”

“By being so closely attuned to the external environment, X-teams are far less likely to make the classic mistakes other teams often make, like coming up with a solution to a problem that no longer exists, or that customers don’t see as important, or getting themselves so out of sync with management that their work never actually gets implemented.”