Do You Have a Hidden Monster Preventing Innovation?
People are actually quite adaptable. Individuals react and cope with change based on what they have recently lived through or experienced. Our research using the CliC Innovation tool shows that many people are more innovative and creative than they believe. Once they learn they can contribute, and you remove the monster, a whole new world opens up. If employees think that generating and implementing new ideas is appreciated and rewarded (not necessarily with money but with recognition, opportunities, etc.) they look forward to participating.
To develop a culture that embraces innovation (i.e., to chase away the monster), your employees must understand:
1. The need for innovation and change. What is the compelling story? What are the possibilities? Why is it good for them?
2. The desired type of innovation. Do you want them to focus on making things more efficient or generating completely new ideas? (It is important the leadership team think through this so you get the types of ideas you really want and can support.)
3. The process for change. How is innovation going to happen? How is it going to be fostered, resourced and supported?
4. How they will improve their innovation skills. Innovation skills and capabilities can be taught and expanded. What training are you going to provide that helps employees build their skills?
5. This is not the initiative of the quarter, but a sustained and important process.
6. Leaders will support employees who step up and challenge the status quo. (By the way, this is one of the hardest parts of the change for top executives: allowing themselves to be challenged and giving employees some latitude to try different ideas.)
7. Success as well as failure will be celebrated. Everyone is comfortable celebrating successes. But, getting good at failing fast and celebrating the learning from your failures is important too.
Innovation is not for leaders who only want to stay in their comfort zone. But it is essential for any business that wants to be ahead of their competitors. You need to reach out of your comfort zone, broaden your thinking and be open to new opportunities. You need to pull the monster from under the bed and address it so it isn’t scary anymore. You need to embrace innovation and create the culture that allows the team to participate and make it happen. You cannot do it alone. Everyone in the organization needs to see that being innovative presents an opportunity to contribute and excel. By working together, you can solve complex problems and create long-term business success!