Does instant innovation exist? Discussions around innovation strategies always remind me of my favourite childhood dessert: jelly. It was so easy to make and it intrigued me that it could go from a powder to a jiggly and colourful blob by adding boiling water.
It seems to me that many organisations take the instant innovation approach. Hire a consultant, conduct some training and add a cool looking workspace. Does it sound familiar?
You need to build your house of innovation on a solid foundation. Once you have a solid foundation, there are three things that you need to consider to kick-start innovation within your organisation: trust, patience and the power of iterating.
Trust the people on your team
Trust refers to the people in your organisation. You need to trust them to put in place the changes needed to reach your organisation’s innovation goals. The old way of micromanaging teams will not work. A culture of innovation can only emerge if teams can explore solutions through collaboration.
Innovation does not exist without collaboration. This means that people are your key ingredient in ensuring innovation success. It does not imply that everyone will be on board with where the organisation is going; the journey may appeal to only a few. Work with that few and trust the journey with them.
Be patient with innovation efforts
Lack of patience kills innovation strategies. It is very tempting to introduce innovation within the organisation and expect to see results within the first month.
The problem with expecting a return on innovation investment in a short space of time is that it hinders growth. Think about innovation as a seed you are planting. If you keep digging it up to check whether it is growing there is no way that seed will germinate. Be patient with the team’s innovation efforts. They have a mammoth task to address: a legacy culture, and products built up over years.
The power of iterating
A key component of innovation is iterating and this may come in different forms. One could iterate the products, services or solutions created. And one could also iterate on the approach. One of the misconceptions of innovation and applying an innovation strategy is that you need to apply it as is, that you should not change anything. This, of course, is not true. The true power of innovation is learning, along the way, what works and what doesn’t. Learning and responding is what will separate your organisation from the rest. Be iterative in your approach.
Instant innovation: a recipe for failure.
As you can tell from the three components I have touched on, there is, unfortunately, no such thing as instant innovation. A lot of hard work goes into building and nurturing innovation efforts. Just adding water won’t do the trick.