Four Tips for Sparking Innovation in Your Organization

spark innovation

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” — Margaret Heffernan

The status quo never leads to success. Success stems from questioning what we think we know, from following thoughts down alleys that frighten us, and from considering possibilities that, at first, sound outrageous. When we step outside of our comfort zone, that is where true innovation happens. So, how can you spark innovation not only within yourself, but in your organization as a whole?

Human interaction

It’s easy to get caught up in our own thoughts. It is through conversations with others that we are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. We spend the majority of our time in the workplace focused on accomplishing specific tasks. While completing these tasks is pertinent to achieving personal and organizational goals, it is also important that we make time to interact with colleagues. This interaction can expose us to new ideas and give novel concepts an arena to percolate. Human interaction is necessary to spark innovation in your organization.

Conflict

Conflict can be beneficial when we take the opportunity to look at the root cause. What do we agree on? What do we disagree on? This provides the opportunity for us to consider where we might be right, but also, where we might be wrong. For conflict to be beneficial, it should never be personal. It should not be about the other person, it should be about ideas and perspectives. Progress will never be made if we all think alike; it is through our differences that we discover new ideas and ways of accomplishing our goals. Conflict can serve as a catalyst for sparking innovation in your organization.

Argument

Arguing is the way we hash out differing perspectives and opinions. This, of course, must be done with absolute respect for the experiences and knowledge that others bring to the table in order to be productive. We all have something different to contribute to the conversation, this is what makes the whole more valuable than the sum of its parts. It is when several parties are able to argue their points of view, consider other possibilities, and then compromise that true innovation starts to emerge.

Debate

Debate gives us the opportunity to look at our reasoning. Are we logical, rational, and realistic? Or, are we operating from a point of bias or habit? It’s only though getting outside of our comfort zone and habitual way of thinking that we can start fostering the spark of innovation. Healthy debate challenges our way of thinking and behaving. This is where original ideas spring up and where, working together, we can nurture these new ideas and come up with something fantastic.

Always Have Their Back

As a leader, possibly the most important role you can play in sparking innovation in your organization is to always have your employees’ back. Fear of failure, criticism and the repercussions that can accompany failure deter many employees from thinking beyond the status quo, from what is to what is possible. Encourage human interaction. Support constructive conflict. Value respectful argument. And, encourage lively debate. Set the example and then give your employees your full support. Sparking innovative thinking is good for the individual, it’s good for the team, and it’s a valuable necessity for the organization.

What will you do today to spark innovation in your organization?

© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

Does Your Leadership Support Innovation?

file0001976108977“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” —Steve Jobs

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

Innovation and the Leadership Pyramid

How is innovation dependent on the leadership pyramid for the support and connections necessary for success? Innovation needs the abilities and resources that those in a position of authority have to support creativity and the implementation of innovation throughout the organization. The access that leaders have to information, influence, and resources is essential to the process of innovation.

Innovation needs support and an organizational climate focused on excellence in order to be successful. For innovation to occur, team members must be able and willing to cooperate in the development and application of new ideas. The foundation needed to provide the resources and support for the collaboration that enables innovation must be provided by leadership. So, how can your leadership support innovation?

See through the informational noise

Efforts to innovate should be associated with a clear purpose, outlined objectives, and a shared vision. This clarity and direction from leaders guides innovative efforts in a direction that will provide value to organizational goals. To be successful, innovative efforts should be informed by organizational and market data and information. The vast amounts of available data can overwhelm those trying to sort through it. Leaders often have historical experience with the information which allows them to sort through the noise and identify the key information to support innovative efforts more easily.

Successful innovation requires that a diverse group of people be brought together and encouraged to share information and participate in the process of innovation. Organizational leaders have the authority to determine which individuals participate and what information is shared. Those in a leadership position often have the big picture understanding that is useful in determining who should participate and what information will be beneficial to innovative efforts.

Leaders must manage the knowledge resources of the organization. To successfully innovate, one needs access to accurate information, the capability to connect the informational dots, and the ability to filter pertinent from arbitrary information. Leaders have access to the data and resources necessary to help innovators see through the informational noise

The ability to execute

The end goal of innovation is execution. It is the responsibility of the leader to decide which projects are right for implementation. Successful innovation can only take place when leaders design organizational processes that support innovation and the implementation of new ideas. Leaders also have the ability to support learning from failed attempts to implement innovative ideas rather than instilling a fear of failure.

For innovative ideas to be successful, leaders must provide the practical support for implementation. They must supply the necessary resources to test new ideas. Leaders must manage the people, time, knowledge, and resources allocated to innovative efforts and implementation. Leaders have the authority and resources necessary to execute on innovative ideas.

Build a culture that supports innovation

A culture that supports innovation provides a safe place to experiment, to fail, and to learn. It must emphasize collaboration and the continual pursuit of excellence. The leader must provide the support and climate that encourages creativity and curiosity that facilitates innovation. The responsibility for developing a high-performance, innovative culture falls on organizational leaders.

A culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaborative work practices increases innovation. This type of culture eliminates silos and supports ongoing, open communication. It gives people the opportunity to collaborate by providing permission, time, and resources. An innovative culture rewards the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Successful innovation is encouraged when learning becomes entrenched in the culture.

People must feel safe to make mistakes and then talk about them openly so others can learn from them. An organization that supports successful innovation has a culture where shared decision-making, experimenting, learning, and development are emphasized. Developing a culture that supports learning and diversity has an innovative competitive advantage. This type of culture allows innovation to grow from shared experiences and differing conceptual lenses. Leaders have the influence necessary to build a culture that supports innovation.

Collaboration not competition

Organizational leadership should support innovative collaboration over a mindset of competition. Collaboration requires the sharing and exploration of knowledge across departments, roles, and regions. The contribution of diverse expertise enhances organizational learning, the creation of knowledge, and complex problem-solving. Competition can stifle the ability to share and build on the knowledge and experiences of others. While competition may offer the short-term satisfaction of a personal victory, the satisfaction gleaned from collaborative success can be long-lasting.

Organizational policies should not be overly restrictive in the access that is allowed to pertinent data. Policies should not foster a culture that encourages secrecy and internal competition. Collaboration should challenge ideas in a positive, co-creative way. An important factor in innovation is the support of leadership in encouraging team diversity and the sharing of information to enhance creativity and problem-solving through collaborative efforts rather than competition. Leaders have the influence to set the climate of innovation as collaborative rather than competitive.

Conclusion

Successful innovation is dependent on the data, resources, authority, and influence that leaders can provide. Individuals in a position of authority have the ability to see through the informational noise, execute on ideas, build a supportive culture, and encourage collaboration rather than competition. Become the leader who provides the direction, support, influence, and resources necessary for successful innovation in your organization.
© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz 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. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

Challenging the Status Quo

“The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.” —Bob Iger

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

 

The Status Quo

As Marshall Goldsmith said, “What got you here won’t get you there.” What is sufficient for success today will not be sufficient tomorrow. You must learn to be agile. Evaluate where you are today and where you want to go. Will continuing on your current route get you there? If you are seeking long-term success you must constantly challenge the status quo.

What is your mission?

Your purpose should provide a clear mission. Who needs you? What do they need and why? What must you do to meet those needs? When you have a reasoned mission, you have a clear picture of where you are going and how you will behave on your journey. This clarity allows you to remain calm during times of adversity. It helps you view the lessons of past experiences with an eye for the future. With a clear mission you will find it easier to stay true to your values. Colin Powell reminds us, “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.” Continually challenge the status quo in light of your mission.

 Innovation

John Emmerling tells us, “Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” Innovation allows you to create something new that meets an unmet need and provides value. The ability to innovate requires that you overcome our fear of challenging the status quo. When you take all of your small ideas and combine them, you often come up with one, great idea. Focus on looking for ways to innovate everywhere. Listen to the needs of your customers, employees, and stakeholders as you consider challenging the status quo.

Opportunity

When you challenge the status quo you open yourself to seeing opportunity where you least expect it. Ask questions. What is working and what isn’t? How can I make it or do it better? Milton Berle said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Constantly step outside your comfort zone. Take on challenging situations. Be willing to look at situations from a new perspective. Welcome opportunities to collaborate in new and creative ways. Look to the work of others for inspiration and opportunity to reevaluate the status quo.

Change

Change is a necessity; we must change or we become obsolete.  William Pollard said, “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”Learn to question the status quo and then embrace the change that is required to achieve success today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Howard Schultz believes that, “Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.” It would be foolish to think that you can continue to be successful by doing the same things tomorrow that you did yesterday. You must learn to adapt your thinking to embrace new challenges, strategies, and ways of approaching your work. Clarify your mission, pursue innovation, seek opportunity, and embrace change. Challenge the status quo and move your business forward.

 

© 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 stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

 

The Key to Continued Success: Innovation

 

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

        Innovation

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.

               Culture

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.

                       Principles

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.

                       Relationships

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.

                       Attitude

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.

        Behaviors

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.

        Take-Away

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 stincelliadvisors@gmail.com.

 

Leadership Minute: Change is an Opportunity

Doug Dickerson on Leadership

change

Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is. – Seth Godin

What is your attitude towards change? Do you see it as a threat? How you embrace change as a leader will set the tone for how others in your organization embrace it. If you are not out front with the flexibility to change and grow then it will be hard for others to follow suit when it’s in your best interest to do so. By involving your people in the change process it can calm fears, create buy-in, and make the transition smooth. Not everyone will want to go there with you. Some are simply too comfortable where they are. But when transformative success is your goal change will be embraced by most. Change can be a celebration of where you’ve come from, where you are now, and where you are…

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