Sustaining Innovation in Teams Print E-mail

Innovation and the Cycle of Renewal

Roberts and Fusfeld (2004) describe a model for innovation that provides a basis for understanding the critical components of the phenomenon over the life of an innovation project.  The activities in their model map well onto the Hudson Institute Cycle of Renewal for teams (The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, 2004), as shown in Figure 1.   This provides a framework for considering the challenges of both achieving innovation initially as well as sustaining innovative capacity in an organization over time.Hudson model

Figure 1.  The Hudson Institute Cycle of Renewal for Teams

The HI model describes the evolution of teams as a predictable, repeating cycle comprising four distinct phases.  In Phase 1:  Fully Aligned, a team is largely united by a common set of objectives and metrics; this is a phase of accelerating performance.  Over time, team performance typically reaches a plateau and then begins to decline as the original goals (hopefully) have been achieved and as the original sense of urgency wanes.  Eventually, the team evolves into Phase 2:  Out of Sync, where the team may feel lethargy or a sense of decline.  Perhaps, after a major success, what follows is anticlimactic.  Motivation decreases, and negativity and cynicism increase.  In the HI model, departure from the dissatisfying, low performing state of Out of Sync eventually occurs either as a minitransition, whereby a team makes a modest adjustment to current circumstances and relaunches itself into Phase 1, or as a major transition into Phase 3:  Re-Purposing.  Re-Purposing requires fundamental re-examination of circumstances and the team's sense of identity and purpose.  Following this phase, the team moves into Phase 4: Exploring New Directions, where, equipped with a new sense of identity and purpose, the team explores alternatives and eventually settles on a new set of goals.  At this point, in the HI model, the team re-enters Phase 1:  Fully Aligned.

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