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There are many different suggestions on what makes a team innovative. In order to create innovative teams, a common approach is to look at the composition of the group. In extension of this, two different approaches are primarily used:

  1. Tests
    Following this approach, the participants are tested in order for the group to achieve the optimal composition of members. Such tests are not actual personality tests, but rather based on peoples’ preferences – if possible linked to the competences and characteristics that are visible during the innovation process (originality, adaption etc.).Examples of such tests are Belbin, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Herman Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI)
  2. Roles
    Another common approach is to use different roles where the main idea is that everyone is capable of stepping in and out of these different roles, depending on how far you are in the process and what you find necessary and relevant. Besides this, the usage of roles can prevent categorisations and labeling of the participants. Everyone should be capable of learning how to take on the different roles, practise them and not least learn something from the other team members’ ability to take on a relevant role. As such this approach depends on the individual’s personality and preferences, as some roles are easier and feel more natural to some people than others.The book The Ten Faces of Innovation (Tom Kelley) describes examples of how to use roles.


Besides roles and tests, a number of other factors play a part in relation to the composition of group members:

  • Gender
  • Disciplinary/academic background
  • Personal interests
  • Work experience


The guidance is based on group composition in two different contexts: 1) the composition of interdisciplinary groups (e.g. inter-university courses) and 2) homogeneous core-disciplinary groups (e.g. core-disciplinary courses at a specific education)

The composition of interdisciplinary groups

In the 2011 summer school the procedure for group composition was as follows:

  1. A letter of intent and CV: Before the course began, the students submitted a CV and a letter of intent in order for the teacher to be able to asses both their professional and personal motivation for participating in the course
  2. The students completed an Innovation Team Profile in which the main purpose was to get an idea of the individual student’s natural way of behaving towards other students, as well as finding behavioural patterns, based on a number of statements (around 48)
  3. Connection to the innovation challenge/the case: A team of teachers evaluated each student based on their professional and personal interest and relevant work experience in relation to the specific innovation challenges at the course. Each student was allocated without consideration of numbers, gender or anything else.
  4. Reassessment of the groups: Afterwards the placement of each student was reassessed with the ITP-profiles (personality traits and competences) and gender in mind.

The composition of homogeneous core-disciplinary groups

In an educational context one often deals with homogeneous core-disciplinary groups. These groups are usually supposed to function as teams during a short period, a couple of hours or an entire semester.

Her are a number of factors that are relevant to include when creating homogeneous core-disciplinary groups:

Examples Of Use

View lists concerning interdisciplinary groups in relation to the 2011 summerschool and The 2013 summerschool.


Kelley, T. (2005).The Ten Faces of Innovation. IDEO’s Strategies for Beating the Devil’s Advocate & Driving Creativity throughout Your Organization. Doubleday.

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