When considering innovation in your business or creative life, it's easy to get so caught up in the fuzzy, catch-phrase-laden mentality that you forget the nuts and bolts of bringing true change to your work. But innovation leadership is more than just feel-good slogans and extra meetings with focus groups.
In a recent article in Forbes, Henry Doss offers some interesting tools for developing, managing, and quantifying your innovation leadership strategies. While the concepts of innovation may be fuzzy, incorporating innovation requires concrete strategy, relevant measurements, and new thinking.
Being an innovation leader is not for the faint of heart.
Doss suggests five ideas to help move your innovation strategy from “chasing shiny objects” to a powerful, sustainable cultural change.
- Innovation is not output. When thinking about innovation, you must be forward-thinking. If you're focused on output, you've already placed your focus on the past. Innovation focuses on opportunities; output results from these opportunities.
- Innovation leadership is about measurements. To avoid becoming lost in feel-good, fuzzy rhetoric (with no substantial impact), measure progress. Measuring things like trust, improved communications, and the like can be a real challenge.
- Strategic importance is inversely proportional to ease of measurement. It's easy when designing metrics to look at what you're already doing. But innovation requires that you look beyond what you already know, and tackle the truly hard questions. As Doss put it, “If something is already known and measured, it is likely less important to innovation than what is not known, and not measured.”
- What you measure is as important as what you measure. As you develop your innovation strategy, Doss says it's important to keep your focus on leading (or cultural) indicators, rather than lagging (or output) indicators. Innovation is breaking new ground, and sometimes you'll have to try out several measures before you find the right one. It's better to try several measures than to give up and focus on what's already been done.
- A culture of innovation is caused by intentional leadership. Innovation doesn't just happen. And maintaining a culture of innovation requires firm commitment, focus, and a logical strategy from leaders. Otherwise, it's easy to get lost in the minutiae of daily life, focusing on output rather than innovation.
Define Your Innovation Strategy
To make a genuine commitment to innovation leadership, leaders can't just jump in feet first and hope things will sort themselves out. To succeed and avoid fuzzy thinking, you need to take the time to develop your strategy, define the right measurements and not be afraid of tackling the unknown.
If you are interested in developing your innovation strategy, find out how the team can help.
Phil McKinney Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.