In building a culture of innovation, teach your leaders to write down their ideas, lest they get lost in the clutter of their minds.
Innovation does not have to be disruptive. Small innovations can add up over time and lead to sustainable and hard-to-copy competitive advantage. Let’s back up for a moment and talk about how leadership and creativity are related. I believe that leadership is a function that creates an environment where creativity thrives for the people being led. It is the art of fostering an environment where meaningful innovations occur daily.
If you need creativity at scale, you need leadership; if you just need a process followed, you need management.
If the environment is perfectly predictable and you need to continue to do the same things in the same way, managing your team for efficiency is all that is required. The environment does not require leadership if you know exactly what is expected. However, if the environment is, in any way, volatile, uncertain, complex, or ambiguous (VUCA,) creativity is required, and hence, you need leadership to ensure the environment is optimized to find your way through the fog. Leadership is the function that continuously looks at the environment to optimize for the creativity of the people in the system. It can be broken down into four primary jobs, as explained by The Momentum Framework: Vision, Motivation, Capabilities, and Execution. The result, when firing on all four cylinders, is improved creativity in the pursuit of a worthwhile set of business goals.
To be clear, when I use the distinction of “innovation,” I mean:
An idea, tactic, or process improvement that improves relationships with the people in your ecosystem.
In the traditional sense, it may mean that you have implemented a change that makes the whole ecosystem more efficient and more profitable, thereby improving your relationship with your shareholders. Or, it may make your product or service much more attractive to your chosen market of customers, improving your ability to retain them and convert them into advocates. In a less traditional sense, it may be an improvement to how your team works together, thereby improving their experience working for your…