One of my colleagues, Linda Henman of Henman Performance Group, wrote:

Innovation can only happen if you have innovative thinkers making decisions. Nothing changes otherwise.

When you hire smart people and create an environment that rewards innovation you can improve just about anything. (Notice, I didn’t say change. Change for the sake of change is really annoying).

While I like all of this, Linda is at her best when she offers, “if you have innovative thinkers making decisions.”

Innovation of all varieties must be driven down into the organization from the top whether the innovation be in the form of new products or services or a new business application that transforms how work gets done.

It is exceedingly difficult to drive innovation from the middle of the organization up. If teams sense hesitation, the innovation is likely not to succeed.

Here’s a great example of innovation lead from the top. President John F. Kennedy said with respect to one of mankind’s greatest innovations:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

He didn’t say: “It sure would be nice to put a man on the moon someday.” He inspired us to achieve what seemed to be an impossible mission with an aggressive timeframe. And, the rest is history.

Innovative thinkers don’t accept the status quo. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to move the needle.

Photo Credit: Bob Familiar, Flickr

 

Thought for the week:

“You will have to constantly disrupt and transform your culture as your strategy changes. Disruption is not for the faint of heart and requires discipline, process, and united leadership. The reward is an organization that thrives on meeting challenges.”
– Charlene Li, Altimeter, a Prophet Company

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Dave Gardner

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, author, and blogger based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner focuses on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. Dave is the author of Mass Customization: An Enterprise-Wide Business Strategy - How Build to Order, Assemble to Order, Configure to Order, Make to Order, and Engineer to Order Manufacturers Increase Profits and Better Satisfy Customers.

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