Paul Hobcraft recently reviewed a couple of innovation reports. One implies that executives say that innovation is important for growth, and the other says that executives nods their heads in agreement but don’t follow through.
I’m not surprised by this. Of course, it all comes back the the beloved ROI. And, innovation outcomes, like everything else, are hard to predict. This is a classic case of analysis paralysis, and by being in this state, these leaders are blocking innovation.
If they were to commit, what would “enabling innovation” look like?
In our current interconnected and transparent world, there are a few things that immediately signal that management is enabling innovation:
- Strategy precedes innovation. There has to be a clearly understood strategy. Innovation follows strategy.
- Shared definition is “what innovation is and what it looks like”. This one is important, because there is still debate as to what innovation is. Best thing you can do, is develop a shared definition of what it means you and your organization, and finally, what it looks like. Clarity is an enabler by itself.
- Open dialogue. Taking the previous point further, can anyone question current practices?
- Clear focus on what and where to experiment. Let’s be honest, there is no innovation without experimentation. But, how focused are your experiments? Simply trying things to see what happens doesn’t equal the possibility of great outcomes, so a smarter approach is design experiments that are focused on accomplishing your stated objectives.
- Get out of the way. Not all leaders are creative, that is a fact. But they can enable innovation by getting out of the way and letting the creatives do their thing. This is one way they can walk the talk.
These are the basics, and are clear signals that you are enabling innovation in your organization.
Here are four more perspectives on how business leaders can enable innovation.