“Innovation as usual…”
Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
Innovation is the difference.
Innovation is the single common denominator of all the top companies in the world. It is an essential component of a competitive and productive organisation, and of a highly energized, motivated and engaged workforce. Innovation has become a business imperative.
And yet, frustratingly for many leaders and managers, it is not something you can project manage. It is not something you can quantify. It is not something that can be forced or directed.
Innovation is not another policy directive that can be emailed around your team on a Monday morning – ‘This week, we are pushing a new company policy of “innovation.” We want you all to be more innovative. Your performance will be evaluated at the end of the week.’
Innovation comes from the seeds of creative ideas. It is your job as a leader not to force innovation, but to shape your working environment so that it becomes a fertile ground for those seeds to grow naturally.
It is your job to facilitate innovation, not insist upon it.
Tending the fields of innovation…
There is much debate about what kind of environment best stimulates innovation.
We think of a fertile, innovative environment as one in which your team are encouraged to collaborate, get involved and bring new ideas to the table.
It is about allowing the freedom and creativity that ideas need to grow into profitable actions. You need to ensure that your organisation is flexible enough that you are able to make changes and act on impulse before anyone else. A fertile environment also encourages collaboration as an essential part of innovation.
Innovation must happen by invitation. Show your team that they don’t have to ask permission to think creatively, and to implement their ideas. Make innovation a structural part of everybody’s job. Don’t, for goodness sake, appoint an innovation team!
Finally, it is important that you reward innovation. When your team takes the initiative to try bold new things that will ultimately enhance the organisation, they should be rewarded. Be innovative about how your reward them. Keep it interesting and fun!
Given the right conditions, a little tending and encouragement, innovation will thrive as part of the usual, everyday workings of your organisation. You won’t even have to think about it. It will just happen.