Is innovative behavior for the happy few? No, it is right on your doorstep.
What can you do to become more innovative?
Innovation seems to be THE buzz word for 2019. What worked yesterday, is not guaranteed to work tomorrow, is a phrase often used by our clients. They look for ways, instead of hiring new people with a different skill-set, to develop their own workforce to be more creative and come with more innovative customer solutions. To support that, there are lots of interesting training courses on design-thinking nowadays. However, sometimes the answer is closer to us then we think it is, and that is within ourselves. It seems that many see ‘being innovative’ as trait of the happy few. But, you do not need to be an Einstein to be more innovative. How innovative is your personal leadership? How do you lead yourself to be more innovative? According to Tim Brown, and as we experienced in our working with thousands of leaders, there are three personal leadership skills that drive innovation: optimism, empathy and collaboration.
Optimism is one’s positive attitude and outlook on life. It involves remaining hopeful and resilient, despite occasional setbacks. Innovation is not only a cognitive process, it is also emotional, as nicely illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth.
When you think of past technological innovations, these were not invented overnight. We only see the final success, but it is our optimism that keeps us going when times are rough makes. That makes that our initial ideas become reality. How is your stress tolerance? How do you handle set-backs? How would you assess you own your optimism? Learning optimism is done by consciously challenging any negative self- talk. Are you aware of your self-talk?
Empathy is recognizing, understanding and appreciating how others feel. It involves being able to articulate your understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respect other’s feelings. Why is this important for innovation? Business isn’t just logic. It is crucial that you really understand your clients’ needs. Uber for example discovered their business model by asking travel customer services departments about the most common complaints from their clients.
Contemporary innovation comes through teamwork, cooperation and imagination. Individuals can have great ideas, but without others it never becomes a reality, says Walter Isaacson, in his book ‘The Innovators’. The increased complexity of today’s world, requires interdisciplinary collaboration. If you are really honest with yourself, how do you see your colleagues? Do you see them as obstacles, – you rather do it yourself as that might be much faster- or as vehicles to meet your own targets? Either do you acknowledge that everybody can only see a part of the puzzle?
From knowing to doing
Decide what dimension resonates most for you. Decide on one little step you will take in the coming 24 hours: e.g. note your self-talk after a meeting, connect with a colleague that you saw as irrelevant before or spend one minute longer to understand the other person’s needs and challenges.
And of course stay positive on the steps you take …