The Key to Continued Success: Innovation
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” —William Pollard
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
It would be foolish to think that we can continue to be successful by doing the same things tomorrow that we did yesterday. Innovation allows us to create something new that meets an unmet need and provides value. The responsibility for innovating cannot be placed on a few, select individuals; innovation has to be everyone’s job.
How Do We Create It?
Innovation takes the effort of the whole organization. When you take all the small ideas that employees have to offer and combine them, you often come up with one, great idea. To capitalize on this one great idea, we must give valid consideration to every idea. Successful innovation requires the igniting of passion throughout the organization. The focus should be the customers, both internal and external, that we serve. Let’s create an environment that encourages innovation.
What type of culture fosters innovation? It is up to organizational leaders to create and maintain a culture where innovation can thrive. One of the most important features of this type of culture is an emphasis on learning. The organization should encourage and facilitate the process of continual self-improvement for employees. The culture should emphasize the importance of purposefully creating a new future. There should be a shared definition of innovation throughout the organization. The focus must be on continuous improvement and the prevention and solving of problems. To come up with useful, innovative ideas, employees need to be given time to become familiar with the needs of the customer. They need the opportunity and resources to experiment with ideas.
What do principles have to do with innovation? Innovation does not happen overnight. It’s about thinking long-term and requires focused commitment. A shared vision will guide innovation towards the achievement of organizational objectives. The vision should clearly outline our principles and our principles should guide our innovative efforts. Strong principles allow us to challenge the status quo while remaining true to the strategic direction of the organization.
How do relationships impact our ability to innovate? Camaraderie between team members is the result of healthy relationships. These strong relationships allow us to work together to connect and combine ideas. Relationships with both internal and external customers are developed when we create exceptional interactions with them. It is essential that we develop mutual trust and confidence in each other. People who feel inspired are more committed and will go the extra mile to help the organization succeed. Every employee should strive to inspire those around them.
How does our attitude affect our ability to innovate effectively? Attitude has a huge impact on innovation. We need to be open-minded and receptive to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives. We must be willing to tackle the difficult issues. We should find inspiration in the challenge. We must keep a positive and collaborative attitude even during disagreements.
What sort of behaviors increase the odds for successful innovation? The only way to get good ideas is to get a lot of ideas without judgment. These ideas can be evaluated for usefulness later. Employees must be encouraged to experiment with new ideas and concepts. They should be allowed to let ideas evolve and grow over time. We need to explore a wide range of solutions. The focus needs to be on outcomes and making sure everyone involved knows the vision, strategic goals, and desired results. There should be a healthy tension between where you are and where you are going. This tension should ignite passion but not competition.
Will what you did yesterday be sufficient for tomorrow? The answer is no. Long-term success goes to the organization where innovation is built into the culture. The truth is, you must learn to innovate or you will become obsolete. You never know where the next great idea will come from. So, create a culture that fosters innovation and involves every employee in the process.
© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.