So you want to create an innovative culture in your company? Here are 6 concepts you need to adopt:
1. Start small and ripple out
Like all change management projects, tackle the issues in bite sizes. So if you want to start a revolution, start by getting your change champions. And from them, create ripples across the organisation until everyone is on board. In a similar fashion, identify your Innovation Champion and work in a small team first. Once they show progress, open up more teams and soon, the ripple effect will take hold.
2. Shape up AND ship out
Many leaders want their fingers in every pie. Micomanaging is one sure way to kill the innovative spirit. Instead, leaders should adopt the "shape up and ship out" mentality. All they need to do is frame the focus, shape the project and then stay away. Let the team pull themselves along. Don't even jump in when they are obviously floundering. Get them to solve all problems themselves. They will surprise themselves - and you - with their ingenuity!
3. Give them time - within limits!
All good things need time to nurture. Yet, we need to put a boundary on them else they may just float around aimlessly. Like all projects, your innovation team will need to meet agreed-upon timelines which should be set such that it maintains the interest and energy of the team. A little stress is good for the innovative mind.
4. Keep the cookie jar away from prying hands
In other words, restrict the money. Resist opening the pipeline even if they have a huge case for it. Insist on their resourcefulness. It's usually in times like these that we get the breakthrough that we need to become innovative. The money pot should only open up when we are into the 3rd and 4th D (of our 4D's of Innovation). If we don't train innovative minds to work with very limited resources, we will find that when push comes to shove and we are in a limited-resource environment, we will come up short with a solution. Watch these two short clips from the movie Apollo 13 (the left one first). This is why we need to keep the hands off the cookie jar: to be a MacGyver.
(Note: Videos taken off YouTube and displayed here as is. Used for educational purposes only)
5. Good is better than perfect!
I know this sounds wacky, but it's true. The enemy of good enough is perfect! All of us know that there is no such thing as a perfect product. Yet it does not seem to stop some people from trying to build it. Yet by trying to make your product perfect, you miss giving it to the people who need it most. This is the principle that Apple adopts. Most people will never buy the first iteration of their newest products knowing that it will be full of bugs. Why doesn't Apple just solve these bugs before bringing it to market? Because they know that the people of there will be much better at identifying the bugs than they can! And they can always have an update 2 weeks after the launch. My coach once said this, "Good is better than perfect! Perfect it as you go along."
6. Failure is always an option
Finally, understand that innovation exists in a space of possibilities. There are usually no hard data to prove it will work. Everything is a trial. As a result, there will be more hits than misses. Even when we have done all that we possibly can, we might still "fail". This failure does not mean that we were not innovative. And we need to embrace this concept, learn what we can from the "failed" event, and move on. By adopting a can-do attitude and embracing a can-fail process, we ultimately hit more successes than failures!