Innovation. Welcome to the new way of working. Some obvious and some not so obvious elements for extraordinary success.

 

By Laura Gramling, President, EnSpark Consulting

You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not? —
George Bernard Shaw

When you think of inventors, you might picture Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, Alexander Graham Bell and so on.

When you think of innovative companies, you probably envision Apple, Tesla, Google, Airbnb and so on.

 

 

From a spark of an idea to the moment of “eureka”, what supports innovation?

Innovative organizations that consistency generate the next best thing focus on the connections between a clear vision, harnessing diversity, mastering design thinking and creating positive work cultures. Extraordinary organizations manage these elements fluidly with feedback and experimentation as the norm. Innovating how they work as they work on innovations.

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers. — Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Leadership vision. From the start, leaders need to be committed to the WHY and be committed to seeing the end results through. In other words, they are “all in” for what’s possible. As committed as they are to the vision, leaders need to be flexible and open to how, when and where staff design, solve and create. Leaders take responsibility for creating the environment to unleash their staff by removing roadblocks, fostering high-trust, setting accountability for everyone including themselves, and holding the focus.
Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people. – Steve Jobs

Diversity of people engaged. Creating an environment with diversity of thought, creativity, disciplines, and lived experiences is central to innovation. Successful organizations facilitate processes for all voices to contribute and allow creative tensions and polarities to be additive, not distractions.

Diversity needs to be at all levels and across the organization.  In the realm of innovation, there is no one discipline, world-view or organizing principle.  Extraordinary organizations have diverse staff and figure out ways to bring out everyone’s best efforts.

Organizations become known for attracting great talent by focusing on how work is done, creating high-trust cultures and acknowledging and rewarding the contributions of their staff.  Want the best innovating at your organization? Pay attention to diversity.

A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be – and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). – Linda Naiman, Founder, Creativity at Work
Design Mindset is foundational. Design thinking shapes the process of generating new ideas and is shaped by a very large context of “what’s possible”. Mastering ambiguity, complexity, adaptability and creativity while honing content expertise is now fundamental for success. Organizations need to provide staff with opportunities to expand their capacity to work across disciplines and harness this diversity to generate options and design the next best thing.
To allow for the process of insight to take place, it is key to disconnect from intentional or otherwise deliberate linear thinking. The important of this process is confirmed through scientific studies that show unconscious thinkers outperform conscious analysts when it comes to making complex decisions. – Andrea Choate, Neuroleadership Lessons: The Science Behind Creative Problem Solving and Making Better Decisions

Inserting play.  Or more accurately, time and space for non-linear brain processes to occur.   Engaging in activities that promote feelings of happiness or calm are a central element to being more innovative.  When our brains get quiet, new discoveries via new neural networks occur; this is the genesis of “eureka” moments. 

 

Organizations that promote opportunities to disconnect from work are, in essence, creating conditions for high-performance to emerge.  Walking paths, meditation rooms, gym spaces, game rooms were once seen as nice perks.  Now there is evidence that utilization of these spaces are direct contributors to organizational and personal success. 

Visions don’t change they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan. – John Maxwell
Laser focus. Sounds simple, but hard to do.  Modern life and modern organizations are besieged by distractions and competing demands. Focusing in what’s most important, on what matters most can be elusive if there is not a rigorous commitment to fulfilling on one’s vision.  Being innovative requires wide-ranging thoughts, actions, and experiments. The process produces many ideas and possibilities. Being clear on the ultimate vision and results becomes the guideposts for what’s in and what’s out. Keep the vision in focus as good ideas turn into prototypes turn into decisions turn into innovations.

Leading is about focusing on the right things.  Creating innovative organizations takes vision, rigor, flexibility, and trust.  Somewhat paradoxical yet essential elements for extraordinary success. 

 

Connect with EnSpark Consulting to spark your innovation vision.

Quick reads and food for thought

 

Is Diversity Good for Business?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2016/04/23/is-diversity-good-for-business/#6aebee744a40

Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

http://www.creativityatwork.com/design-thinking-strategy-for-innovation/

Neuroleadership Lessons: The Science Behind Creative Problem Solving and Making Better Decisions

https://blog.hrps.org/blogpost/Neuroleadership-Lessons-The-Science-Behind-Creative-Problem-Solving-and-Making-Better-Decisions

 

Howard Gardner’s Five Minds of the Future

https://howardgardner.com/five-minds-for-the-future/

 

Collaboration Is the New Competitive Advantage

http://innovationexcellence.com/blog/2016/04/28/collaboration-is-the-new-competitive-advantage/

 

Collaborative Leadership

http://www.oxfordleadership.com/collaborative-leadership-white-paper/

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