There's a lot that an organisation needs to be innovative. It needs to be open and not closed to external environment. You need to listen closely, but not exclusively, to your customers. You need identify your lead users and work with them on some new products. You need elasticity in how you manage people - some autonomy to to develop their own initiatives, but not too much autonomy to take off on wild tangents.
The organisation needs a vision of what you want to be innovative about. You need ways to collect, encourage and reward ideas. You need to focus on the process of ideation more than the outcomes, as well as tolerance for mistakes, lots of encouragement, and cross-functional and collaborative teams that trust each other and share the work loads. If you’re the CEO you need to be sure that somebody - the right person - is charged for developing innovation in your organisation. Phew - that can all be a little bit exhausting …
Is there an easier way? Is there a shortcut? Well, no, and yes.
There is a shortcut. Well, not exactly shortcut, more like a longcut. I know some organisations, well one organisation, that is extremely innovative and wasn't deliberate about it. If you've been reading my blogs regularly you might be thinking that this flies in the face of everything I've said - that to be innovative you need to be deliberate about it.
How does this organisation do it? It's simple enough. They've got a great culture. They've got a culture that's open, focused on the development of their people, with high levels of trust and self-actualisation. A focus on achievement, as opposed to avoidance. Their people do have high levels of accountability and responsibility but, also, great reward and recognition. All the elements of innovation are there, but they didn't set out to create them. What they focused on was simply creating a great, productive culture.
They weren't thinking innovation specifically, but one of the outcomes of a good culture is innovation. As for being a shortcut, it took 10 years to develop so it's a bit of a longcut really: develop a fantastic culture, and the innovation will happen.
If you don’t have that long to wait, or if that's a little bit out of your reach right now, start by being more deliberate. Go for the innovation, and you’ll have the double bonus of creating the kind of culture that is highly productive, super engaged and also a great place to work. That’s the only short/long cut to innovation.
But don’t despair – we have helped many organisations become innovative fast. We have paid, and a free diagnostic, and plenty of experience. Get in touch with Cris: firstname.lastname@example.org or (+61) 0438 545 607.