Newvick Lee
17 Apr 2017

How a leader can unleash innovation in their organization


People are taught to be cautious and to make decisions based on thorough and rigorous analysis. To get it "perfect".
As a result the process tends to be long and arduous and faces numerous levels of scrutiny before a decision is finally reached. 

Paralysis by analysis often sets in and the momentum of the organization continues.

Nothing changes.

In addition, people are taught to avoid making mistakes. They witness how punishment for a miscalculation is handed out to their colleagues and decide that risky actions have too much personal downside; they prefer the status quo. 

Nothing changes.

To counter these powerful anti-creativity forces, leaders can ask two questions to unleash innovation and creativity in their organization.

1. "How do we get there?”

If you know how to hit your target, your "Innovation Incentive Quotient" – IIQ – is zero; you have it figured out. On the other hand, if you have no idea how to achieve your goal your incentive to innovate is high; you have to figure it out

Innovation is not spawned by applying analytical tools that draw upon historic performance to predict future results. 
Trend line thinking stultifies breakthrough action as it merely extends past performance with the expectation that the future will somehow mirror it.

It never happens.

Creativity is driven by declaring a goal without knowing exactly how it will be achieved and doing the hard entrepreneurial work to figure it out. 

It’s about having the intestinal fortitude to enter uncharted waters, pointing your ship in the general direction you want to go, and navigating – creating – as you go.

Innovation is killed by not wanting to go forward without knowing how the end goal will be achieved. I see people shut down when confronted with the objective of doubling revenue in 24 months because they don’t know how to do it. 

They stop, say the objective is “unrealistic” and adopt an uninspiring target that they think they can achieve. IIQ = 0. Creative juices don’t flow.

2. “What do we have to do differently?” 

Listen to the conversation that pervades most organizations today: “What is best in class doing?” is the driver of most activity. 
Benchmarking the leader of the pack and copying them absorbs everyone’s time and energy; yet even if you are successful you remain in the pack like everyone else.

Benchmarking is the tool of sameness. 
It does not stimulate innovation, and you won’t separate yourself from the pack. IIQ = low (some innovation might occur as some operational improvements are possible based on copying others).

And if you don’t stand-out from the pack, what does your long term future look like? 

It goes like this: sameness = mediocrity = invisibility = irrelevance = dying = dead (sooner or later).

To be successful in the long run, IIQ MUST be high; creativity must force you out of the pack and make you relevant and unique.

Creativity is launched by asking these questions: “How can we BE DiFFERENT?”, “How can we BE CoNTRARIAN?”, “How can we go in the OpPOSITE direction to the leader of the pack?”.

The unknown and quest for uniqueness are the drivers of innovation. 

What's your Innovation Incentive Quotient?

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.



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