Unlocking Innovation Pt. 1: Team Empowerment

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Agile transformations ought to impact actual business results, like improved innovation. In the Path to Agility, we’ve mapped Agile Outcomes, or competencies, to 9 Business Outcomes–Speed, Market Responsiveness, Predictability, Productivity, Continuous Improvement, Quality, Customer Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Innovation.

Once those competencies are in place, they turn into competitive advantages for your organization. As you think about unlocking innovation in your organization, the question becomes, how do we unlock that capability of allowing new ideas and creative thoughts to become actual solutions that meet our customers’ needs?

Unlocking innovation begins when all levels of a company are involved. In this video, Cottrell discusses what needs to be true at the Org Level. This is the leader level. It’s where culture, strategy, HR/People, influence and impact the organization. As seen in the map below, Team Empowerment, Agile Leadership, and Whole-Org Agility are three important Agile Outcomes at the Org level you might consider helpful keys to unlocking innovation in your organization.

A map of the Agile outcomes tied to innovation on the Path to Agility

Using the Path to Agility, Team Empowerment is achieved when leaders create the environment for three team capabilities: Team Responsibility, Team Autonomy, and a Culture of Learning. Each of these capabilities have acceptance criteria that help measure progress and establish focus.

For Team Responsibility, Agile Velocity coaches look at leaders’ interactions with their teams. For instance, do leaders hold those teams responsible for maximizing the business value they deliver as well as creating the environment for them to do so? To unlock innovation, leaders become responsible for removing the friction that is in the team’s way so that they can become empowered and confident innovators themselves.

In this video, Erik Cottrell dives into Team Empowerment and the capabilities that are needed to enable teams to solve their customer’s toughest problems as well as their own. Here’s what the video covers and when:


  • 1:40 What Business Outcomes drive Agile transformation
  • 2:04 What do we mean by “Innovation”?
  • 3:53 What the path to Innovation looks like
  • 6:53 Path to Agility overview
  • 9:20 What Agile Outcomes are needed to achieve Innovation
  • 15:42 How to empower teams to be innovative
  • 17:16 How 3 Agile capabilities (Team Responsibility, Team Autonomy, and a Culture of Learning) impact Team Empowerment

How does your organization empower its teams to be innovative? Comment below.

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