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Aug
31
Rick Boersma

 Q: While these tools are valuable for generating creativity - how do you "train" leaders to support innovation / create a culture of innovation, i.e., be willing to accept a level of risk from their team?

A: Two parts to this answer:

1. The individual Leader

2. The organization

The leader’s need to "get or understand" innovation in the same way that everyone else does. So, some of the basic theory is important. There is a business case to be made for innovation, and then they need to understand what’s required for implementation.

From an organizational change perspective, the following needs to be true.

There are general best practices that reflect what leaders can do to support the development of innovation as part of a culture. These include:

  • Get the right people on the bus, which is as true for leaders as anyone else in the organization.
  • Clear, regular communication of support and expectations
  • Modeling the desired thinking and behaviors - including using the tools
  • Understanding of the knowledge skill and behavior that lead to innovation and investing in ensuring people have them
  • Identification of opportunities - and encouragement for identifying opportunities
  • Openness to ideas
  • Ability to assess balance risk and create practice opportunities
  • The ability to encourage innovation at the individual level through the understanding of abilities, style, values and motivation.

As each corporate culture is distinct, there are also ways leaders can support the development of a culture of innovation that must be tailored to the organization and the point in time. A process of discovery creates a strategic, targeted approach for leaders to take to ensure innovation settles in to the organization with the least resistance and greatest return possible.

The discovery categories include:

  • Definitions and expectations of innovation within the organization: if innovation is being talked about - how?
  • How innovation fits into and contributes to the strategy: how will innovation move the company forward, and how aligned are leaders and others on this part of strategy?
  • The current value discipline (operational excellence, customer intimacy or product development) or the service delivery imperatives that are perceived to be in place: What do people think are the priorities when working - doing things efficiently? Creating deeper relationships with the customer? By adapting and making new offerings?
  • Current employee engagement and feedback on the culture: what are the current benchmarks?
  • Iconic success and failure examples: are there common "legends" about trying new things in the environment now?
  • How are new things assimilated - practically, personally and collectively?

If you would like to view the Innovation in a Box webinar, click here.

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Rick Boersma

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Co-Founder Floworks Training, Design & Innovation