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.

The Four I’s of Leadership: Inspiration, Influence, Innovation, and Impact

clove

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team mates and customers.” Robin S. Sharma

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

Leadership

While we may be able to make a list a mile long of factors that play a role in effective leadership, you will be well on your way if you can nail down the four I’s of leadership; inspiration, influence, innovation, and impact. These are key factors that will determine your ability to be effective in any other aspect of leadership. Leadership isn’t about ideas; it’s about making things happen. Focus your attention and energy on the four I’s of leadership and watch what happens.

Inspiration

John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” A leader inspires and motivates colleagues. They can spark the passion and creativity that encourages others to accomplish amazing things. Inspiration is the beginning of everything else; seek it at every turn and in every corner. Use your inspiration to pursue something you believe in; use it to make things happen and to inspire greatness in others. Let your inspiration be the spark that lights a wild fire.

Influence

John Hancock explained, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” Influence is how you get things done as a leader. In order to influence others you must build trusting relationships and show genuine concern on an individual level. Be a role model of accountability, perseverance, and courage. Be respectful in all of your interactions. Earnestly motivate your employees to accomplish noteworthy tasks and provide recognition rather than seek it. Become a good listener, then follow through and follow up. Share your wisdom and be transparent in your words and actions. When you become someone who employees look up to, you will have the influence you need to lead.

Innovation

William Pollard believed, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success it to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” Where will your success come from tomorrow? As a leader, you must focus your resources on challenging the status quo and helping others innovate. Reach across your organization for new and innovative ideas; fresh perspectives inspire fresh thinking. Leverage the disruptive opinions and opposing points of view you find in your organization to generate great ideas and question deeply held beliefs and assumptions. Provide a safe environment where employees can experiment and fail, then learn from that failure. Remember, innovation is never an end; it’s only a step in a continual process.

Impact

Sean Parker tells us, “I definitely wanted to earn my freedom. But the primary motivation wasn’t making money, but making an impact.” Ultimately, leadership is about getting results. Your leadership is not about you, it’s about creating a culture of accomplishment. It’s about making an impact by interweaving connections, challenges, and creative situations. Recognize that your leadership will have an impact, whether good or bad, on everyone who interacts with your organization. Leadership is about people; awaken in others the belief that they can accomplish extraordinary things and make them feel valued. And then, cultivate leadership in others; leave a legacy of impacting future leaders in such a positive way that they, in turn, will have the same impact on others.

Your Turn

According to Lao Tzu, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” As a leader, your value will be determined, in part, by the four I’s of leadership. Are you an inspiration? Are you able to really influence others? Do you encourage innovation by dedicating time, support, and resources? And, are you making a positive impact? Four simple I’s that, if used correctly, will lift your employees and your leadership.

© 2015 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.

Are You Good at Failing?

“There’s no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times.” —Jonathan Ive

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

Why Fail?

We always talk about success, but what about the stepping stones to success that we call failure? We’ve all heard the advice: fail fast and fail often. But why fail at all? When we fail, we gain insight into what went right and what went wrong. This information helps guide our next steps in the right direction. Failure helps us to learn what we don’t know so we can determine who or what we need access to for success. We can also share lessons learned from our failure with others and implement lessons others have learned from their failures. The fact is, you’re going to fail so you might as well get good at it.

Innovate

Brene Brown explained, “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” Great innovations are developed through trial and error. It’s not very often you get grand innovation right the first time. The only way to assure you will not fail is by doing nothing and innovation is never built on inaction.

Fail

Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” As much as it may feel fatal, you will survive, failure is just part of the innovation process. The quicker you fail, the smaller and more manageable your mistakes will be. Every time you challenge yourself you are flirting with failure but, when you fail you have the opportunity to step up your thinking. You aren’t invincible so you might as well develop an accepting attitude towards failure.

Perseverance

Julie Andrews said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Develop resilience; use your failures as learning experiences. Make adjustments and return better than ever. Fail, pick yourself back up and move forward. Failure can transform you and the way you look at the world around you. The more you fail the better you will become at making corrections quickly.

Success

Winston Churchill explained, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Failure is a stepping stone to success. It often brings with it new opportunities and perspectives. Most great successes have been preceded by failure, sometimes multiple failures. You will achieve success once you are willing to accept failure as a way to learn and move forward.

Are You Good at Failing?

Woody Allen said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Remember, failing is part of the journey. You learn more lessons and gain more wisdom from your failures than your successes can ever provide. Value and celebrate your successes, but learn to value the lessons that failure has to offer as well.

© 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.