Successful organisations recognise that modern, knowledge-based economies are built on abstract ideas. To deliver products and services of value, innovative organisations marshal the symbiotic power of people and ideas.
How Do You Drive Innovation?
1. Embrace ambiguity
In a world where ideas reign supreme, recognize that ambiguity is the real mother of invention. Innovative organisations foster environments where ambiguity is seen as an opportunity to explore and innovate rather than something to fear.
2. Fail fast, fail often, fail forward
Failure is not negative, it’s normal. Success often comes after many failed attempts. Successful organisations see failure as an opportunity to learn, adjust, address problems and improve. The secret is to do it frequently and quickly!
3. Grow together
I don’t know everything, and you don’t know everything so why not learn from each other. Move away from winner takes all communications and embrace the empowering benefit of humble platonic communications. To learn and grow together is one of the joys of life.
4. Recognise innovative ideas come from anywhere
Ideas are not the sole territory of those at the top; they come from new starters, customers, sales staff, analysts, market researchers, developers - in fact from anyone in or outside the team. Top organisations commit themselves to a culture of listening out for and observing the unexpected.
5. Challenge the ideas and not the person
An often-quoted phrase in Australian Rules Football: “Play the ball and not the man”. Nothing is as destructive to a team as tearing others down to advance an idea. Rather, build on each other’s ideas, however feeble, to create better ideas.
Pro Tip: Remember all ideas in their infancy are fragile, they need to be carefully nurtured. It’s easy to destroy, hard to build! In many cultures wreaking disharmony in relationships to improve a process for personal gain is an indication of a low-quality person (素质低 – sùzhìdī). Their preference is to disrupt processes to maintain relational harmony. There may just be a lesson to be learnt here!
6. Embrace diversity
Effective organisations embrace and marshal the synergies of difference. Difference and the ability to manage differences effectively is a better catalyst for innovation than sameness.
7. Take chances, change course, be agile
Break throughs don’t come from not trying or doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different outcome. Trying, learning and nimbly changing course is the key to break through innovation.
8. A team that works well together is better than a team of rock stars
High performance teams are made up of competent people who enjoy working, growing and having fun together. Time and again they collectively outperform the rock stars.
9. Recognize innovation can be disruptive
Nothing is more unsettling than innovation. It challenges the status quo and well-established norms. Change is hard, and the natural human response is to first reject, then denigrate, perhaps express anger over and lastly begrudgingly accept. Innovative organisations see the natural human responses and ensuing misunderstandings that disruptive ideas create as a litmus test indicating that the idea may in fact have merit and is worth pursuing.