• Innovation is a process. Let that sink
In my coaching practice, I encounter business leaders who are excited about innovation. They speak about it in glowing terms. Also, they express the pressing need for their organization to innovate their processes. And they tell me how wonderful it is to have me help their process. I call this the: ‘honeymoon’ phase. Here, everyone is excited. Well, back then I enjoyed the ‘honeymoon’, but I knew it would not last because of the nature of innovation.
Now, I do not engage in ‘honeymoon’, I shot straight and get down to business. Meaning: once I engage business leaders, I start to ask key pressing questions and by the end of our talk, they are clear on the realities of innovation and their role in the narrative. I do not allow the illusion or fantasy of innovation to linger because I know it’s a waste of time. In the process, I help business leaders understand these three key innovation principles. Let’s review them.
Desire isn’t Capacity: Many innovation efforts fail because some business leaders don’t understand this principle. Many are positive thinkers, so they mistake desire for capacity. It’s not the same. The desire to see your organisation successfully move through phases of innovation doesn’t mean that you have the capacity to pull it off.
On capacity, I don’t just mean financial, but also leadership capacity. If no one is there to provide the energy required to push innovation, it won’t succeed. Many times, innovation fails because the leaders lack the vision and strength to push through and make it happen.
It’s a Process: Innovation is a process. Let it sink in. This is huge. Generally, business leaders get stuck in their thinking and in the innovation process when they fail to understand that innovation is a process. Hence, they don’t give it the patience that it deserves. This approach puts undue pressure on their organization and sometimes, brings innovation to a halt. Innovation is a process that takes time, work energy and patience.
It’s Hard Work: I can’t say this enough. The innovation process will test you, sometimes, sorely. That’s why it’s important for business leaders to understand that it is hard work. For innovation to succeed, business leaders and innovation teams must be prepared to put in the hard work. Yes, the innovation narrative sounds nice, but so much messy, hard work goes into making it happen. However, when leaders are mentally poised for this aspect, then the journey is better managed.
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