Living in such a dynamic time, innovation is indispensable, but how do we leverage innovation? What is innovation exactly? And how are you doing it wrong?

Yu Zhi Wei
9 Nov 2020


We are in a great time of constant and unprecedented change. Every other week, something awe-inspiring or astonishing will be on the news, breakthrough inventions like self-driving vehicles, automated delivery drones, or a robot making your cocktails.

In the face of this dynamism, top leaders embrace innovation, and they will say “We need a culture of innovation!” with everyone agreeing, because who would say otherwise? The hidden problem here is that framing innovation as an issue of culture will mislead us to focus on its distractions instead of working on the practicalities of innovation.

The truth: Innovation is a discipline

The biggest myth in innovation is that is it a fundamental problem of creativity. If our teams were more creative, innovation would be very easy. When we are misled with this way of thinking, innovation becomes an attribute that each individual either possesses or does not. The only things that we can then do is to create the “right” environment for innovation to take place, and hope it happens. What we should actually be doing is to frame innovation as an issue of discipline – learning the right methods, tools and implementing the right approaches at the right times – we would then be focused on the real imperatives of innovation:

1. Introduce an infrastructure for your innovation

We won’t expect someone without any prior training to come up with a robust financial model without excel or draft an in-depth marketing strategy presentation without powerpoint. Likewise, how can expect our peers, colleagues, or leaders to suddenly possess the ability to innovate?

Like any other process or discipline, we get better the more we learn, practice, and use innovation. Installing the critical infrastructure to back your innovation processes and communicating the presence of it to your team is crucial to achieving effective innovation. Providing a central hub to collect goal-specific ideas is a great way to kick-off your innovation at any scale.

2. Declare your innovation compulsory

Now that you view innovation as a discipline and have set in place your dedicated infrastructure for innovation, we can then hold our teams accountable for sponsoring innovation initiatives and put the right people in charge of developing these innovation campaigns.

The strongest and most successful innovators in history, from the likes of Google to NASA, have connected involve in innovation initiatives to career development. They realise that innovation is an indispensable result from the next generation of leaders they would put in place. Now instead of scraping budget leftover from each quarter to put into your innovation, it becomes an important investment that is being funded programmatically because of its crucial role in the success of your organization. When we start making innovation compulsory and begin expecting it from one another, we remove the false hope of procrastination that innovation will magically happen one day.

3. Track your efforts and results

Now that you have your dedicated infrastructure for innovation that has been made compulsory, you then need to start focusing on what works for you – set your goals and measure your results.

Pay attention to which one of your efforts yielded better outcomes; was it more worthwhile to run a longer innovation campaign with a broader focus in goals? Or was it more valuable to have a shorter innovation campaign with a very specific question? By reviewing your actions, you will be able to see what works best for your organization and make critical breakthroughs in your innovation efforts.

Learning from past “failures” and gather insights to improve on your innovation capabilities, are you asking the right questions? Are you targeting the right people? Is this worth your team’s time? Are you dedicating enough resources to this challenge?

Drive your innovation with real conviction as a proper discipline and you will instantly feel that “culture” of innovation you desire, but with real accountability among your peers. Your teams will start to work differently with this open form of ideation and learning, be better aligned to their goals and missions, all this without having to pay to do up a fancy new “innovative space”.

Take Charge of Your Innovation

Ready to take charge of your innovation? With Concordiar you can easily create and share your goal-oriented innovation challenges on a central platform for your great ideas. Book a demo with us and we will help you get started!

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