5 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Produce Transformational Technology

July 25, 2015

12:00 pm

Nobody likes waiting in line. Online banking and services such as PayPal swooped in to give people their time back. They changed the way consumers participated in mundane tasks they no longer wanted to be part of.

Thousands of technology companies are competing to transform the world. How can you beat them?

For your technology to matter, it must fill a void or create a need. Take Uber, for example: Too few people could flag down a cab, and the ride-sharing app was born. Things change quickly in the modern age, putting a premium on technological adaptability. The iPod revolutionized music storage, but it was absorbed by the iPhone because communication was a greater need. The most transformative forms of technology are simple; people won’t use a new device or application unless it’s accessible.

Building and guiding your transformation team

Transformational technologies ask people to rethink essential parts of their lives that have become inefficient. That said, you can’t lock your team members in a room and assume they’ll create something that alters the world.

What you can do is assemble the best team in an encouraging environment with the equipment needed to succeed. Here are five steps to facilitate your team’s transformational tasks:

1. Create a multi-flavored crew. Your teammates won’t succeed if they’re all creatives or all managers; you need a variety of personalities to progress. If you consider the number of people interacting online — using different software and programs for different reasons — a diverse team makes sense. Your team members will offer a wide range of opinions, perspectives and experiences. If your cross-section of personalities is channeled in a healthy direction, you only stand to gain by hiring diverse individuals.

Further, solid managers make a noticeable difference. By having project managers offset entry-level issues that inhibit momentum, developers can dive deep into technical possibilities and leaders can steer the ship in the right direction. Having someone ring the bell to signify play or work time adds structure to chaos.

2. Foster an idea playground. Sometimes, the most transformative ideas result from casual conversations about something common. To facilitate those dialogues, create an office where collaboration is encouraged, not forced. Give your developers, designers and quality assurance staff fluidity to work together. By maintaining a healthy social environment, co-workers can become friends, making idea sharing more organic and fruitful.

But just as a global open-door policy is necessary for fostering collaboration and ideas, blocking time for people to focus is important. Accomplishing this may mean creating a “do not disturb” policy, especially if you’re serious about making No. 3 work.

3. Preach efficiency. According to one study, a 2.8-second distraction can cause a 100 percent increase in errors. Between social media, email and messenger apps, your team members deal with a lot of distractions every day. Encourage your team to close unnecessary applications, take email breaks and mute unimportant notifications.

For concentrated bursts of work, encourage teammates to try the Pomodoro Technique, which allows employees to divide tasks into intervals, followed by short breaks for email and other responsibilities. When your teammates focus on one task at a time, they’re more apt to make progress. Enforce the elimination of office chaos (people milling around asking questions and disrupting progress) during code sprints.

4. Refill the idea bucket. For a team to develop new and relevant technology, it needs to constantly update its knowledge base. Send your team to conferences and trade shows to learn new skills and interact with other teams.

Ample time and money are needed to help your team thrive and produce transformational technology. If you’re not in a position to make these sacrifices, you’ll fall increasingly behind.

5. Prevent burnout. Your team should work hard, but it’s important to stress practicality. Nobody can stay fully percent focused throughout the day. Encourage recreational activities and midday workouts to balance mental pushes with physical activity.

Transformational technology doesn’t happen all at once; it’s the result of tiny brushstrokes that create an eventual masterpiece. Spend the necessary time and money to build the best team and environment. The smallest efforts, over time, can lead to transformation.


Image Credit: Flickr/Connor Hinkle

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Jason Kulpa is the CEO of San Diego, California-based Underground Elephant (http://undergroundelephant.com/), a customer acquisition solutions companies for leading brands. By leveraging proprietary next-generation marketing automation technology, Underground Elephant provides Fortune 1000 companies with direct-response solutions on an unprecedented scale.