A Proclamation for Innovation
In this brief article, we would like to make a minor (maybe not so minor) Proclamation. The Proclamation is this:
We need innovation.
We need innovation in our organizations, in our society, and in our world. And each of us needs to become contributors and creators in support of this innovation. But not innovation defined simply as the development of a few new products or services every year. Our challenge is much greater than that. What we need in our world today is innovation defined in a much broader sense.
When we talk about innovation per our Proclamation, we are talking about a mindset. A way of viewing the world and our work—the way innovators do. A way of doing work and addressing our problems, challenges, and issues. The way we do strategic planning and planning for the future. The way we make decisions and set priorities and allocate resources. In this broader definition of innovation everyone, at every level, in every role across an organization becomes an innovator, viewing the world and their work through an “innovators lens” – a lens focused on creating. A lens that reframes problems in the context of a higher purpose and desired outcomes. A lens that focuses on making continuous connections to a diversity of people, data, experiences, ideas, and perspectives (see Figure 1 - also refer to the ARC Model of Innovation for more information).
This broader view of innovation also defines how we will lead people in our organizations. Leadership that role-models innovation behaviors. Where it’s safe to bring bad news forward. Leadership that establishes innovation goals for every employee and that embraces change and values the continuous generation and contribution of new ideas. Leadership that rewards, recognizes, and reinforces innovation activities. Leadership that views failure as an essential part of the innovation process and fosters an environment where making mistakes is OK. Leadership that instills and reinforces a sense of collective purpose. Leadership that provides on-going coaching, feedback, and mentorship around the innovation process.
This broader view of innovation also means having an organization that provides the right environment and infrastructure needed to cultivate and sustain innovation. An organization that gives people access to the tools, platforms, and systems needed to continuously collaborate and access to the data they will need to spark new ideas. An organization that expects innovation as part of everyone’s job responsibilities and that builds exploration, experimentation, and innovation-related activities into daily work. An organization where innovation is, as Peter Drucker (1986) wrote, “part and parcel of the ordinary, the norm, if not routine.”
In short, this broader view of innovation in our Proclamation is a way forward in our world. The way we will grow, advance, and prosper as organizations, as a society, and as a world. Without the full understanding and commitment to this definition of innovation, we are at great risk of diminishing our standard of living and enduring a stagnant or deteriorating global economy. The 20th Century and the Industrial Revolution brought an incredible explosion of innovation that gave many nations prosperity and growth. But to continue to build or even sustain this kind of growth and prosperity will require innovation of a different kind. The kind of innovation described in our Proclamation. Innovation that is broader, more pervasive, and more inclusive—that involves EVERYONE in an organization. The innovation in our Proclamation is what we call, “Everyday Innovation.”
The time to engage in this broader view of innovation is NOW. We already have the raw material, talent, and know-how to make Everyday Innovation and our Proclamation a reality, but it will take the full understanding, commitment, and investment in the necessary resources to bring it to life. There is risk in making these types of changes, but the risk of NOT making these changes is far greater. Holding on to the past is not an option. Again, in the words of Peter Drucker (1986), "Defending yesterday, that is, not innovating is far more risky than making tomorrow.” The time to act is now.
Related: read about Terry M. Farmer, Ph.D. and Xavier Butte's session at the 2015 ATD International Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Co-Founder and President of EiQ, Terry M. Farmer, Ph.D., explains the importance of innovation as well as the importance of engaging everyone in the process of innovation.