The Three Steps of Innovation
Everyone wants to be considered innovative, and there a lot of ways that companies are clamoring to earn this distinction. Innovation is not a new idea, and its connotations have spanned the pejorative to the complementary. Of course, the 21st century economy is listed in the hierarchy of other disruptive time periods that profoundly altered the opportunities and obstacles of doing business.
Today “innovative” is the congratulatory title that we assign to companies or individuals who have the courage and the skills to develop new methods that produce better results. Most notably, positive change is happening as the result of collective action rather than Individual accomplishment. Innovation is the way forward, and everyone is selling a strategy for achieving this task. Amidst all the voices, there are some commonalities in these approaches, and they are available to everyone to implement today.
Innovation is bound to disrupt, and innovators must be willing to embrace that. Obviously. This change results from the utilization of new inventions and ideas to form new ways of doing things.
It’s a mindset. A test of boldness and fortitude. Identifying spaces in need of refinement, and being willing to disrupt the status quo is an intentional choice. Innovation isn’t an end in itself, but a willingness to strive for something better is the first step toward being truly innovative.
Leaders who empower employees to use their skills and specialties to make improvements are enabling revolution to take place in their companies. The Harvard Business Review picked up on this trend, writing, “many senior managers still assume that a few genetically blessed souls are innately creative, while the rest of us can’t come up with anything more exciting than suggestions for the cafeteria menu.”
When thinking of the innovators of our generation, we tend to think about the outlives: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and others who have made a memorable impact on the modern world. These men certainly are innovators, but less discernible people are making decisions and developing inventions that are also leading the charge toward innovation. Empowering employees to drive innovation broadens the talent pool, and raises the probability that your company will do something truly innovative.
With empowerment in mind, innovative companies will support leaders who will support employees. The Center for Creative Leadership notes that, “While modeling innovation at the top is useful and necessary, it’s only the starting point.” Rather, fostering traits like an authentically collaborative environment, a safe-space to fail, and a growth mindset are support structures that encourage the hard work of innovation. Sometimes leaders are the innovators, but often they are the support structure that allows others to thrive and innovate.
While innovation was once thought of as a foolish pursuit that negatively impacted established norms, we now see innovation as the way forward. Our greatest problems and most profound needs will be solved by innovators who establish incredible solutions not yet thought of. Therefore, from the mundane to the fantastic, innovation is available to everyone and embracing a disruptive mindset, empowering employees to lead the charge, and supporting the process are simple steps that everyone can begin implementing immediately.