Innovation is the creation of something both novel and useful. It can be large or small, incremental or breakthrough. It can be a new product, service, process or business model. We live in a time of rapid change; organizations that are able and willing to innovate quickly and rapidly have the enduring advantage in business.
It is a no brainer that every Organization needs to innovate to stay alive. Right? If that is right, why is it that some Organizations relentlessly innovate while others just talk about it?
The answer lies in the leadership of those Organizations. In Collective Genius: The Art & Practice of leading Innovation, authors; Hill, Brandeou, Truelove and Lineback state that, “Innovative leaders create Organizations that are willing (aspire) and able (technical) to innovate”. They go on to list the three critical skills that all innovative leaders in innovative Organizations possess. These skills help them and their teams to profitably innovative time and again;
- Engagement in discovery-driven learning.
Innovation requires the mindset of try, adjust and try again. It arises from lengthy periods of conscious experimentation and repeated trial and error. Case in point; Pixar has between two hundred to two hundred fifty people working on a movie, they present ideas and iterate a lot. There is a lot that discovery –driven learning right from story development to modeling etc. If you are going to relentlessly innovate embrace making mistakes and learning from them fast. As you do that, discovery is-driven learning is born.
In the example of Pixar where you have two hundred people working on a movie, talent is not enough. What you need is talent in the right context. The context being collaboration. Yes you are gifted but are you a team player. Innovative leaders recruit right and create the environment for collaboration to thrive. At Pixar they have “dailies”-gatherings of staff to watch and discuss presentations of the work in progress.
3. Making integrative decisions.
At Pixar, staff know that the heart of a good movie is a good story and good stories get better throughout the process of making them. Though you have an original blue print, nothing is final, allow constant iterations, try different approaches and welcome all ideas. This make innovation messy but rich in value.
The above three critical skills separate the talkers from the doers of innovation. Learn them. Put them in practice and innovate every time.
Credit: Sudesh Kaka.