Updated: May 11, 2023

Ways To Build Innovative Teams

You have found our list of ways to build innovative teams.

Innovative teams are groups of individuals collaborating to generate creative ideas, discover unique solutions, and successfully implement these ideas. An innovative team requires high creativity, risk-taking, and ongoing learning. Examples of innovative teams include open innovation, self-managed, and Agile teams. The purpose of innovative teams is to generate ideas and successfully implement solutions. Additionally, creative teams help organizations remain competitive and relevant by developing new ideas, products, and services that meet the needs of their customers and stakeholders.

Building innovative teams is similar to improving organizational culture as well as boosting employee productivity. You can read innovation books to help cultivate innovation as a company core value.


This list includes:

  • characteristics of innovative teams
  • examples of innovative team structures
  • creating innovative teams
  • building innovative management teams
  • innovative team building ideas and activities

Let’s begin!

Characteristics of innovative teams

Innovative teams can help organizations achieve their goals by encouraging creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning. These teams are crucial for creating innovative concepts, products, and procedures that can support businesses in succeeding in today’s fast-paced marketplace. Innovative teams exist in several industries and fields, and these teams all share a commitment to creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning. Some of the characteristics of innovative teams include the following.

1. Diversity

A diverse team delivers a range of experiences and viewpoints that can inspire innovative thinking. Teams with individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, and skill sets can approach problem-solving from a new perspective. These teams can also frequently come up with answers that a homogeneous group could overlook. Diversity fosters an atmosphere where individuals can question and discuss concepts, facilitating the in-depth examination of alternative solutions.

Read about the importance of diversity at work.

2. Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness entails actively searching out and considering various opinions and perspectives. An innovative team needs open-minded members who are ready to receive and explore new ideas. Members should be receptive even when these ideas differ from their original thoughts. This openness can lead to a collaborative and creative environment.

3. Creativity

Creativity is the ability to develop original ideas and solutions to problems. A creative team can think outside the box and provide cutting-edge solutions that others might not have considered. A creative team is also more likely to question the status quo and challenge assumptions, thereby driving innovation. Furthermore, creativity is essential to thriving in today’s competitive business world. Standing out from the crowd will set businesses apart from competitors.

Here is a list of quotes about creativity.

4. Risk-Taking

More often than not, innovation involves taking risks. Teams open to taking calculated risks are more likely to develop fresh ideas. However, teams should take risks in a logical and calculated way. Before taking this step, employees should consider each choice’s potential risks and rewards to make informed choices. Risk-taking can also result in growth and learning. By taking risks, team members can learn what works and what does not and apply this knowledge to future initiatives.

5. Continuous Learning

Innovative teams dedicate themselves to lifelong learning. Learning entails being receptive to criticism and fresh perspectives and persistently working to advance abilities and knowledge. Employees who are always learning are more likely to keep up with emerging trends and technologies. These staff members are better equipped to come up with fresh, creative solutions. Continuous learning also fosters a culture of growth and development. When you encourage team members to learn and develop new skills, you instill a feeling of empowerment and inspiration to do more within the team.

Examples of innovative team structures

Innovative team structures are organizational formations that foster innovation, creativity, and collaboration. These structures inspire creative problem-solving, open communication, and unconventional thinking among team members. Here are some examples of innovative team structures.

1. Cross-Functional Teams

Cross-functional teams include individuals from several departments or fields of expertise collaborating to accomplish a common objective. A product development team, for instance, might consist of engineers, designers, marketers, and customer support agents. Cross-functional teams seek to promote cooperation and communication among various divisions of the firm, resulting in more creative ideas.

2. Self-Managed Teams

Self-managed teams are individuals with the liberty and autonomy to manage their work processes. This organizational style encourages innovation, creativity, and accountability since it allows team members to try different problem-solving approaches. The team members feel more motivated and engaged due to the freedom to make decisions and take responsibility for their job.

3. Open Innovation Teams

Open innovation teams involve external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and partners, in the innovation process. This team includes customers, suppliers, and partners. This organizational structure promotes cooperation and aids in making sure the final product or solution satisfies the demands of all parties involved. For instance, a business can develop an open innovation platform where clients can submit suggestions for brand-new goods or services. The business can then collaborate with these clients to develop and improve these concepts, resulting in more creative solutions.

4. Skunk Works Teams

After being coined to characterize a group of Lockheed Martin engineers who worked on top-secret projects during World War II, the term “skunk works” has now spread to other fields. Skunk works teams sometimes function independently of the rest of the company. The system frees employees from bureaucratic constraints and enables them to work swiftly.

Therefore, skunk works teams have the opportunity to work on innovative ideas without the restrictions of a bigger organization. Thanks to this framework, which promotes innovation and risk-taking, team members can try new concepts and strategies. Skunk works teams are useful for high-risk initiatives that require a lot of innovation and creativity, such as creating new technology or designing new products.

5. Agile Teams

Agile teams employ a flexible and adaptive approach to project management and strongly emphasize collaboration, communication, and adaptation. For complex and rapidly changing projects like software development, this structure works remarkably well. Agile teams work in short, focused sprints and establish frequent check-ins and feedback loops. This structure leads to more rapid innovation and better solutions.

Innovative team structures are vital for organizations that promote collaboration, creativity, and innovation in the workspace. Creating these teams will help organizations to stay competitive and adapt swiftly to the rapidly changing business environment.

Building innovative management teams

In today’s highly competitive corporate world, innovation is essential to any organization’s success. Organizations must create innovative management teams that encourage creativity, risk-taking, and ongoing learning to accomplish innovation. Here are some steps to take in creating innovative teams.

1. Define Your Goals

Setting goals is the first step in creating an innovative management team. In defining your goals, you should be able to answer questions about what you hope to accomplish, the problems you are trying to solve, and the opportunities you are attempting to seize. Defining your goals will help you identify the expertise and skills your management team will need to achieve these goals.

Check out this list of goal setting activities.

2. Determine Key Skills

Identifying key skills will help you hire the right talents for the job. Some essential skills might include collaboration, communication, adaptability, and strategic thinking. The goal is to decide what skills are most crucial to achieving your organization’s goals.

3. Recruit Diverse Talent

No innovative management team can exist without a group of diverse talents. Hiring these talents involves sourcing individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives. This way, you can build a team with a wide range of approaches and perspectives to problem-solving.

4. Establish an Innovation Culture

To promote innovation, it is critical to establish an environment that values experimentation, risk-taking, and continuous learning. This environment will give your management team the tools and encouragement to innovate and boost creativity. In addition, an innovation culture encourages employees to think outside the box and develop new and creative ideas.

Here is a list of books about innovation.

5. Foster Collaboration

More often than not, innovation requires collaboration between individuals with diverse skills. By encouraging collaboration, you give team members a chance to work together on projects and initiatives. As a result, each team member brings a unique perspective to the table.

Read about collaboration skills.

6. Encourage Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is essential to stay ahead of the curve. Encouraging continuous learning means providing your management team with opportunities for training and development as well as encouraging them to seek out new knowledge and skills on their own. Promoting continuous learning fosters a growth mindset and improves employee engagement and retention.

Innovative team building ideas and activities

Innovation is a crucial aspect of the growth and success of any organization in today’s fast-paced world. It has become crucial for organizations to build and keep up innovative teams that can evolve with the times and provide original solutions to issues. A great way to achieve this goal is by conducting creative team building exercises. Here are some innovative team building activities and ideas to engage your team.

1. Design Thinking Workshops

Design thinking is a method for solving problems that focuses on empathizing with the end user, defining the issue, generating potential solutions, prototyping, and testing. A design thinking workshop is an excellent way to introduce teams to this strategy and aid in developing an innovative attitude. Team members will collaborate to identify an issue, develop solutions, and build prototypes to test their ideas during the workshop.

Here is how to conduct a design thinking workshop:

  1. Identify the problem that the team will tackle.
  2. Schedule a workshop on design thinking, and invite team members.
  3. Conduct empathy exercises with the team to better understand the end user and their needs.
  4. Lead brainstorming sessions to produce potential answers.
  5. Create prototypes to test the solution.
  6. Carry out testing and iteration of the prototype until you reach a final solution.

Design thinking workshops can help team members understand customers’  desires and pain points.

2. Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are an entertaining and interesting approach to encourage cooperation and teamwork. You can tailor this activity to fit the goals and objectives of your team with a focus on communication, creativity, and problem-solving. A good example is designing a scavenger hunt around solving clues related to a market trend or business challenge.

Here is how to organize a scavenger hunt:

  1. Establish the objective of the scavenger hunt and a specific challenge your team should solve.
  2. Create clues that direct the team to various locations or objects connected to the challenge.
  3. Provide a list of guidelines and rules for the team to abide by for the scavenger hunt.
  4. Set a time limit for the hunt, and monitor progress at every stage.
  5. Gather the team after the scavenger hunt to discuss challenges and solutions.

Scavenger hunts encourage outside-the-box thinking and help team members approach problems in new and innovative ways.

Check out this guide to team scavenger hunts.

3. Improvisation Workshop

Improvisation workshops help team members enhance their teamwork and problem-solving abilities. This activity improves employees’ agility, adaptability, innovative thinking, and productive collaboration. Improvisation workshops are great for creativity and problem-solving.

Here is how to conduct an improvisation workshop:

  1. Plan an improvisation workshop, and invite team members.
  2. Provide rules and regulations for the workshop.
  3. Come up with activities that will boost team members’ communication skills, and encourage the team to think outside the box. These activities may include brainstorming sessions, team building activities, role-playing, and storytelling.
  4. Monitor progress at every phase, and provide constructive feedback to your team.
  5. After the workshop, gather the team to discuss the skills they learned and how team members can apply these skills at work.

An improvisation workshop will help team members develop skills and mindsets critical for driving innovation.

Here is a list of improv games.

4. Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming sessions are a classic but powerful approach to spark creativity and generate ideas. However, there are numerous approaches to brainstorming. Depending on your team and the particular task team members are working on, some strategies may be more successful than others.

Here is how to conduct a successful brainstorming session:

  1. Identify the challenge or problem that the team needs to solve.
  2. Invite the team members to a brainstorming session that you have scheduled.
  3. Set up rules and regulations for the brainstorming session.
  4. Lead an ideation session that is either structured or unstructured to develop potential solutions.
  5. Reduce the number of viable solutions on the list to a manageable level.
  6. After the brainstorming, the team should reassemble and discuss challenges and potential solutions going forward.

Conducting a brainstorming session will provide a structured process for generating and developing creative ideas.

Check out this list of virtual brainstorming ideas.

5. Hackathons

Hackathons are intense, group-based activities where teams collaborate to develop creative answers to particular issues or obstacles. Because hackathons offer an organized environment for original thought and problem-solving, these events can be a great method to create and maintain innovative teams. Hackathons can also encourage a spirit of rivalry and enthusiasm among team members.

​Here is how to host a hackathon:

  1. Come up with an issue or challenge that the group must resolve.
  2. Plan a hackathon, and invite your team members.
  3. Establish a set of rules and guidelines for the hackathon.
  4. Break teams into groups, each working on a particular solution.
  5. Make prototypes of the solutions.
  6. Test and improve prototypes until you come up with a definitive answer.

Hackathons will provide team members with an opportunity to come together and collaborate on solving complex problems.

Here is a guide to virtual hackathons.

6. Innovation Workshop

Innovation workshops aim to assist teams in acquiring the knowledge and attitude necessary to innovate. These workshops can cover topics like ideation, prototyping, design thinking, and novel business models. Also, you can customize innovation workshops to meet the unique demands of the team. These workshops are an excellent approach to assist team members in gaining the abilities necessary to promote innovation inside the company.

Here is how to conduct an innovation workshop:

  1. Identify the different skills or abilities the team needs to acquire.
  2. Set up a session on innovation, and invite team members.
  3. Create a curriculum that addresses crucial subjects like ideation, prototyping, design thinking, or new business model development.
  4. Encourage team members to participate in exercises and activities that encourage innovation.
  5. Track developments and give feedback to team members.

These workshops provide a collaborative and structured environment for team members to generate and implement new ideas and solutions.

7. Virtual Reality Exercises

Exercises in virtual reality can be a fun and exciting approach for groups to practice problem-solving and creative thinking. Virtual reality exercises can imitate real-world situations and aid in developing end-user empathy, creative problem-solving, and communication skills in team members. You can choose a virtual reality platform based on the skills you want team members to master. For instance, you may employ a virtual reality platform replicating a group project or a particular scenario connected to your sector.

​Here is how to host a VR exercise:

  1. Choose a virtual reality platform.
  2. ​Ensure team members can access essential technology like VR headsets and controllers.
  3. ​Set up the virtual reality equipment.
  4. Inform the team members of the exercise and the goal of the exercise.
  5. ​Provide an in-depth explanation of the mechanics and regulations team members will adopt in the task.
  6. Keep track of the team’s development throughout the activity and, if needed, offer feedback and direction.
  7. After the exercise, bring the team together and discuss the results, challenges, and lessons.

​This exercise will help the team collaborate more in future tasks. Virtual reality provides a unique and fun way to engage team members in the innovation process.

Check out this list of virtual reality team building ideas.


For firms to remain competitive in modern fast-paced business environments, innovative team development is essential. Organizations can create innovative teams capable of developing new ideas, taking risks, and fostering growth by utilizing these strategies. Building a creative team requires effort, dedication, and long-term commitment. However, the result is a team that can stay ahead of the curve and adapts swiftly to changes and challenges. Building an innovative team is a crucial investment in the future of any organization.

Next up, check out these articles on developing workplace resilience and fostering inclusive workplaces.

FAQ: Ways to build innovative teams

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about ways to build innovative teams.

​How do you build an innovative team?

It takes forethought and planning to put together an innovative team. You should find and employ individuals with a wide range of experiences, opinions, and expertise. This variety of perspectives and approaches helps ensure creative problem-solving. After assembling your team, it is time to create an environment that encourages risk-taking and originality. Finally, be sure to offer regular support to show staff they can create without fearing failure.

Why are innovative teams crucial?

Innovative teams are crucial to any organization because these teams provide fresh ideas, take calculated risks, and promote growth within the organization. Also, innovative teams help organizations adapt to new challenges and opportunities in today’s evolving business world.

What are the best innovative team building ideas and activities?

Some of the best innovative team building ideas and activities include brainstorming sessions, hackathons, improvisation workshops, and design thinking workshops. Innovative teams play a vital role in keeping businesses competitive, adapting to new circumstances, encouraging a culture of experimentation, and boosting employee engagement and growth.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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