Being an Innovation Leader

Being an Innovation LeaderHave you ever been told that you or your team needs to be more innovative? That word — innovation — is scary to a lot of people. It’s like the word creativity. People think that it applies to other people who have some special gift or some different way of seeing the world.

I think many people view innovation as the next big thing, some lightning bolt idea that comes from nowhere and is completely, radically, something-the-world-has-never-seen, new. In reality, innovation is most often about a series of small changes that add up to something very different or about putting together things that already exist in a new way or a new form.

Try these 5 tips to bolster innovation:

1. Ask why. The first step in innovation can be asking the question “Why?” so that you can really step back and think about why something is done a certain way or designed a particular way.

2. Look at it through the eyes of someone who’s never seen it before. This can be difficult when you are so close to an approach, a process or a product that you can only view it as it is. Ask someone very unfamiliar with it to look at it and tell what she sees. Include different perspectives, different areas of expertise, and different backgrounds in a conversation.

3. Take people out of their usual environment. We get into patterns of thinking when we always engage in activities in the same place. The environment creates that box we’re always told to get out of. Have a conversation in a different place. Go outside. Meet over a cup of coffee. Go to a museum.

4. Ask those closest to it what they would change. The people who are closest to a process or product or way of doing things, can tell you about what isn’t working or is frustrating or could be done differently. Ask for their creative ideas about how to change things up.

5. Ask ‘Why not?” When we hear a new idea we often respond immediately with thoughts of the obstacles we will run into not the potential it holds. Stop. When those thoughts invade the conversation, push them aside and focus on asking “Why not?”

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