April 21, 2010
41 Ways Business Leaders Can Foster a Culture of Innovation

gnawingblog.jpg "They watch your feet, not your lips." -- Tom Peters

Yes, we know you want your organization to be more innovative. And yes, we know you want to improve your organization's culture of innovation. The best place to start? With YOU.

1. Give up needing to be the smartest person in the room.
2. Seek out people who think differently than you do.
3. Reward new thinking.
4. When you delegate, delegate.
5. Listen more, tell less.

6. Create an environment where no idea is considered dumb.
7. Require that 30% of all budget proposals include innovative
products, processes, strategies, business models, or management
approaches.
8. Celebrate failures and learn from them.
9. Be a learner, not a know-it-all.
10. Don't rush to resolve differences. Tolerate ambiguity while
gaining a deep understanding of the thought processes underlying
all positions.

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11. Surface conflict and support minority positions.
12. Let go of your way of doing things.
13. Explore the territory before seeking a destination.
14. Reward people who disagree with you.
15. Protect the new from the old.

16. Get feedback to test whether what you think you communicated is what people actually heard.
17. Do whatever is necessary to deeply engage employees in the realm of the possible.
18. Do whatever is necessary to create widespread understanding and commitment to a shared vision of the future.
19. Reward teamwork and unselfish effort -- not individual heroics.
20. Accept as much of yourself as you can.

21. Recognize the talents of those around you and leverage them to the max.
22. Pave the way for your subordinate's success.
23. Develop all your reports to be your successor.
24. Provide very specific, timely, behavior-based positive feedback.
25. Begin your feedback with what you like about a new idea.

26. Make the path to considering, evaluating, and deciding on new ideas clear and easy to navigate
27. Look behind "wild ideas" for potential new directions.
28. Never write anyone off. Try to understand where they are coming from before judging them.
29. Don't forget that everything you do is scrutinized for meaning.
30. Spend at least 20% of your time in two-way communication with people at all levels of your organization -- and spend most of this time listening, not explaining.

31. Be intentional and deliberate. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and test whether that is what you are getting.
32. Stick your neck out for what you believe in and value.
33. Acknowledge when you don't know -- and rely on others to help you figure it out.
34. Give the work back. Your job is to get the best that everyone has to give -- not come up with all the answers yourself.
35. Eliminate fear from the workplace. Foster excitement and commitment.

36. Acknowledge when you are wrong. Don't defend yourself. Just learn from your mistakes.
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37. Engage others in the exploration of what is possible. (Don't create unnecessary limits).
38. Keep your organization in the zone of "productive disequilibrium." Resist efforts to revert to the "tried and true."


39. Increase freedom and accountability. Let employees experiment with whatever approaches they think are worth exploring while remaining accountable for results. Let them own the "how." You own the "what".
40. Provide timely feedback and data to everyone so they can identify what is working and what needs fixing.
41. Remember that the only person you can change is yourself.

-- Barry Gruenberg, Director of Leadership Development
Idea Champions

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 21, 2010 02:22 PM

Comments

Thanks for this thoughtful article! Wonderful resource for anyone wanting to improve leadership skills--plus, you've listed many wonderful life lessons from which we can all learn how to be...just plain better. There's always room for improvement and you've illuminated the best ways to get there!

Posted by: VzNana [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2010 12:44 PM

Think you have perfectly encapsulated the 41 reasons why Joseph Schumpeter's "creative destruction" rule still holds true. While we all laud the Apples of the world, most large organizations are simply not able to reconcile to many of these principles to their day to day operating environments.....

Posted by: Jon Bidwell [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2010 04:23 PM

Having the right tools to support many of the things you list here can also have a dramatic effect. Creating digital space where employees can collaborate, see what others are doing, share and comment on ideas serves to engage employees and support leadership in cultivating a culture of innovation. The tool isn't the end in itself, but combined with the right organizational structure and leadership support, can be truly effective in harnessing the power of collective knowledge and making each individual feel they can and do make a difference. See real stories of innovation at work here: http://bit.ly/hpx1K

Posted by: A Facebook User [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2010 02:26 PM

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Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

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