You cannot win a war with just one soldier (Unless his name is Rambo!).
You cannot evolve your company with just one innovator (Unless his name is Steve Jobs).
YOU NEED AN ARMY OF INNOVATORS TO WIN THE INFINITE WAR OF EVOLUTION WAGED AGAINST YOUR COMPANY.
The greatest burden for a leader is to believe that he/she is saddled with the responsibility as the company’s sole innovator. To be the only person expected to find that zen-filled spot with a moment of focused contemplation surrounding the plethora of issues facing your organization is too much for one warrior to handle, even if they possess great creativity and skills. Yet have no fear; you have an army of support ready to be unleashed on the innovation task at hand. They surround you, will join forces with you, and will save your company if you see and recognize their strengths.
Your army of innovation warriors is performing every task imaginable on a daily basis.
They are on the proverbial front lines, face to face with the opportunity to see, first hand, what is happening within your company and what needs to be done to save it. They will not let you down and will fight to the end if necessary. They can see the growing cracks in your operation. They know the inefficient processes that must be refined. If given the opportunity, they will not only identify the probable issues, they will pose plausible innovations.
If you knew today that you will lose the war without them, how would you rank your chances of victory? How ready are they to mobilize? How open are they to your communication? Do they feel appreciated, validated and heard? How loud are their voices today, before you need them to win a war?
These five attributes need to be present to maximize your chances of winning the war of innovation:
- You need the culture of the three T’s (Teamwork, Transparency & Trust) present, alive and well.
- You need to applaud innovation, big or small, and recognize the accomplishments of key individuals that led to the enhancement.
- You need to encourage action, without fear of failure, by literally recognizing all innovations as critical; even the ones that fail to materialize into useful solutions.
- You need to communicate the issues in a way that each person, individually, understands the organizational playing field and the urgent need to change.
- You need to listen for the words of innovation, coming from both the most vociferous mental powerhouses as well as the most unexpectedly timid individuals on your team.
When your entire Senior Management Team is actively excelling at the five steps towards innovation, you need to create the internal bandwidth to implement innovations on a small scale, looking for the spark of success needed to generate profound results. By shooting small and few bullets at the enemy, you can identify the primary target and then, once you know where to put your energy, fire the big guns at the key innovation that will transform your organization into a nimble market leader now and into the future.