What is an Innovation Team?
"Situated in City Hall, i-teams report to the mayor and work closely with colleagues in city government, offering them a different set of tools and techniques to innovate more effectively. In partnership with these colleagues, they seek to deeply understand the problems they are trying to solve by building empathy for the people impacted by them, and then work quickly and creatively to co-create and test solutions that deliver meaningful results for residents. Mayors and city leaders are consistently turning to these i-teams to solve their city’s most pressing problems, and they are making big changes that matter.
What makes i-teams so powerful? They give city governments the ability to solve problems in a new way. Cities need a new discipline and corresponding to generate transformative ideas that produce real impact. By establishing dedicated i-teams, city leaders can create the space for staff to step away from their daily work and to rethink issues, reimagine outcomes, and capitalize on bold new possibilities."
– Bloomberg Philanthropies
We don't necessarily believe in sticking to a stringent set of rules, but in general, we believe in upholding a few values that help us work together as efficiently as possible. When we work together well, we deliver the most value to our city's citizens.
1. Always walk away able to understand one another.
There is no mistaking it. Our jobs can be stressful, and often we are pushing our own mental limitations to learn how to adapt to what our projects need from us. Disagreements are not unfamiliar to our office culture, but we believe in giving one another the time and freedom to share our individual perspectives. Change and innovation can be messy, but at their core, they are nothing without a strong team bond.
2. Give one another psychological safety.
Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as "being able to show and employ one's self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career" (Kahn 1990, p. 708). In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. We would get nowhere if everyone didn't feel like they can safely share their ideas without fear of repercussion. Mutual respect for one another and our ideas is the foundation of our team.
3. Rely on both the head and the heart.
We are an information driven team and that information comes in many formats. Thus, it is important that we never limit the capability and willingness to seek out additional perspectives that can bolster the understanding of issues while allowing for them to be examined through both qualitative and quantitative lens.
Mobile's opportunities are rooted in its challenges. The city has always had a firm industrial backbone and has been immensely successful in recruiting large manufacturing companies. However, in the past, cultivating small and mid-size employers has had less of an emphasis. Part of our role is to assist local leaders who are focused on developing small and mid-size businesses to create job opportunities that serve community needs.