Tell me and I’ll forget.
Show me and I may remember.
Involve me and I’ll understand.
Now is as good time to really start thinking about embedding innovation into the DNA of your company. A recent survey conducted by Business Week asks readers if taking risks is more important than stability. Fifty-four percent of the 602 respondents who answered the question said “taking risks” is more important, and the remaining 46% said “stability.”
What caught my attention even more is that readers think that by “encouraging employees to submit ideas for new products” will most likely inspire risk taking, while appointing a Chief Innovation Officer is less likely.
While I think this is a good start, I think this is a problem of perception where another title with a fancy name is indicative of another boss. You should always encourage employees to submit ideas for new products/services, but if you want to create a company wide religion of innovation you need someone to lead the charge.
Building a self sustaining capability for innovation is a leadership challenge. People think that by putting someone in charge of innovation it ceases to be everyone’s responsibility. Yes and No!
Innovation is new and unpredictable, it requires patience and the acceptance that most things you try will fail. For this reason alone, companies fear innovation The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns film and suffer from the “permission slip syndrome”, where employees feel they need to have permission to take risks.
The initiative to embed innovation into the DNA of Whirlpool came from former CEO David Whitman and his vision of “Innovation from anyone and everywhere”. When he announced his vision he simultaneously took the role of Chief Innovation Officer at the company.
I also believe the CEO should also be the Chief Innovation Officer, but in most companies this isn’t the case. So what if you have a CEO who has not found the need to drive innovation from the top?
Here are a few things you can start doing right now to start managing for innovation:
- Appoint yourself as the Chief Innovation Officer who will be responsible for leading the innovation initiatives, providing employees with tools, techniques and coaching to develop their skills.
- Assemble a team of 3-5 people who will be the “Innovation Dream Team” and give them just one job: to imagine the future.
- Collaborate with other employees and come up with 3-5 ideas each everyday of things your company could do differently and where they think your company needs to improve the most. This is intended to drive engagement by empowering other employees and to get them in the innovation mindset.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up and take charge, employees don’t need permission to create or innovate!
What do you think, do you agree that appointing a Chief Innovation Officer will lead to better results in your journey towards a sustainable capability of innovation?
PHOTO CREDIT: Shaun.numb