Context: Forces that either enable or hinder innovation.
ENVIRONMENT THAT NURTURES INNOVATION
Leaders of innovation look after their innovations as gardeners nurture their plants. Gardeners do not tell a plant to “grow!” They focus on the environment around the plant. They make sure the soil has the right nutrients; the plant has sufficient water and that insects do not destroy the plant. If they nurture the right conditions, the plants will grow. Naturally.
By establishing an environment that is innovation-friendly, or Context, the leader “incubates innovation” to flourish. Yet, all too frequently leaders concentrate their energy on the details of a specific initiative (Content) with little regard to creating the right environment (Context) for the innovation to flourish.
GoInnovate! provides four primary strategies to align organizational forces in support of innovation.
People. It’s easy for leaders to become absorbed in the process and lose sight of the many people who have a stake in the innovation. Innovation will be swifter and of a higher quality when people are included in the planning process, properly educated, exchange open communication and are recognized for their service.
Structures. Most current structures in an organization are designed to service today’s business. Our modern economy originated by increasing efficiency and optimization. True efficiency requires uniformity of input and output. It thrives not on change, but on sameness.
While efficiency is important, innovation serves a different function than efficiency. In order to succeed, innovation requires a new structure, e.g. overall organizational design, composition of innovation teams, job descriptions, organizational policies, relationships with suppliers and distributors as well as the physical environment.
Processes. Innovation comes from great ideas. How does your organization generate ideas? What does it do to manage or select the “best” ideas? How are decisions made by leaders and team members during the innovation process? Are your hiring and review processes helping to build a culture of innovation? These are just a few of the many processes which either enable or hinder innovation.
Technology. Does not innovate; people do. But technology is a great enabler at the center of an innovation-friendly environment. It can be used to capture ideas more accurately and rapidly, enable identification and assessment of problems and opportunities, manage planning and implementation better and interconnect minds.
What is your technology strategy to nurture innovation?