Taran Swan

Leading innovation: Finding the right pace (week 20)

take your time - a clock in a block of ice

Creative resolution requires navigating balance between patience and urgency.

Leading innovation: Finding the right pace (week 20)

Traditional leadership:

With a conventional approach, leaders tend to make decisions either too quickly or too slowly when ruling out or adding options. They are not moving at the “right” pace.

A fresh approach:

To move at the “right” pace, new-era leaders of innovation should keep options open to allow sufficient deliberation and data-gathering during the “creative resolution” phase. Decisions must be made with patience, although care must also be taken not to move too slowly. Leaders must navigate a balance between patience and urgency.

Bring it to life:

      • Give it the “Right” Time (1). Be willing to appear indecisive while you create time for ideas to develop and for integration to occur.
      • Give it the “Right” Time (2). Be comfortable with deferring decision-making. Reassure your employees in order not to rush a premature consensus.
      • Favor Options. Resist pressure to make decisions quickly and move on; keep options open.
      • Practice an opposable mind to allow your teams to develop multiple ideas before deciding which to pursue.
      • Keep Your Balance. Avoid making hasty decisions or missing opportunities by making decisions too slowly.
      • Embrace Complexity. Make it clear that your people must grapple with complexity, not avoid it with simplistic choices.
      • Don’t Settle On An Idea Too Fast. Do not hesitate to send your teams back to keep looking for a better solution or to study a situation more closely.

Next week: Creative Resolution – Right Locus.

Leading innovation: Know when it’s time to change (Week 19)

robots with tools experimenting

Creative agility allows for periodic adjustments based on data and sound decision-making

Week 19: Know when it’s time to change

Traditional leadership:

The convention has been to stay the course in spite of warning signs that change is needed. This hesitation reflects a bias toward the status quo, an inability to change, or a lack of desire.

A fresh approach:

New-era leaders should be open to identifying next steps in seeking a solution, then adjusting subsequent actions and choices based on data and sound decision-making. Create the necessary space for the pursue-reflect-adjust cycle.

Bring it to life:

    • Foster experimentation and expect progress. Anticipate periodic course corrections when facing new information, opportunities, or problems.
    • Encourage people to reconsider their points of view when presented with new information.
    • Understand that projects may benefit from pivots or adjustments; be flexible.
    • Assess whether to stop experiments early if they appear unsuccessful, allow more time and patience if warranted, use results to reassess the original problem, or roll out or scale up successful experiments.
    • Look out for opportunistic moments to expand experiments.
    • Ask, “Is the problem really what we thought it was, or do we need to understand it in a new and different way?”

Next week: Creative Resolution – Right Pace.

Leading Innovation: Reflecting On Failure For Creative Agility (week 18)

Dog in deep thought

When experiments, tests, or pilot project fail, reflect on why they fail, not who failed. For Creative Agility to help with innovation, it requires a no-penalty culture.

Week 18: Reflecting On Failure For Creative Agility

Traditional leadership:

The convention has been to blame others for poor results rather than to focus on learning from experiments, tests, or pilots.

A fresh approach:

New-era leaders should not blame people for failed results when innovating. Instead, they should rigorously seek to understand why the effort failed.

Bring it to life:

      • Regularly conduct a post-mortem with teams when an experiment is not successful.
      • Ensure everyone has access to the same data.
      • Reflection should be done consciously, collaboratively, and openly.
      • Take time for self-reflection and encourage employees to do the same.
      • Create a no-penalty culture, where people are free to change their minds or be on the wrong side of an issue.
      • Encourage teams to use learning to inform next steps.

Next week: Creative Agility – Adjust.

Leading Innovation: Pursue a wealth of ideas with creative agility (Week 17)

Three snails with one on a skateboard

Pursuing creative agility means experimenting and testing many ideas.

Week 17: Pursue a wealth of ideas with creative agility

Traditional leadership:

Traditionally, “new” ideas are moved quickly to iteration and implementation following pilot programs.

A fresh approach:

New-era leaders need to experiment and test many ideas before proceeding, keeping multiple options open for as long as possible.

Bring it to life:

      • Routinely encourage employees to try new ways of doing things.
      • Support “both/and” thinking over “either/or” thinking.
      • Encourage a continuous learning environment where everyday operations and decisions are opportunities for new thinking and input.
      • Create the space for integration by keeping things simple, flexible, and open.
      • Encourage employees to take calculated risks.

Next week: Creative Agility – Reflect.

Leading innovation: Constructive Conflict & Debate (week 16)

Fish and a shark at a debate

Constructive conflict and debate requires many ideas as well as greater comfort with ambiguity.

Week 16: Constructive Conflict & Debate

Traditional leadership:

In the past, “innovative” ideas came from the top or from those who provided “favored” ideas. People tended to go along to get along. Ideas were evaluated based on who said them.

A fresh approach:

Today, A

Bring it to life:

      • Robust Discussion. Catalyze robust discussions about ideas with honest feedback and iteration in the interest of improving and expanding ideas.
      • Debate Ideas. Challenge yourself and others regularly to debate all sides of an idea or position.
      • Accept Ambiguity Around Ideas . Manage your own anxieties about conflict. Lean into ambiguity instead of avoiding it.
      • Focus on Ideas, Not the People Who Have Them. Point out when debates become about people instead of ideas.
      • Think Contrarian. Challenge employees to take a position opposite to their own and describe its merits.
      • Respect Each Other. Encourage respectful dialogue. It is okay to take breaks when a conversation becomes too heated.

Next week: Creative Agility.

Leading Innovation: Diversity of Thought (Week 15)

Diversity of thought concept (many thought bubbles of various sizes and color)

Diversity of thought requires fostering a range of viewpoints and highlighting differences.

Week 15: Diversity of Thought

Traditional leadership:

In the past, leaders conventionally placed a high value on subject-matter expertise.

A fresh approach:

To innovate in the new era, while subject-matter expertise is still important, you need to foster diverse perspectives and viewpoints. To do this, you must create teams and workgroups that highlight and represent many differences of disciplines, backgrounds, personalities, experiences, and perspectives.

Bring it to life:

    • Amplify vs minimize differences
    • Invite your group members to share minority and contrary viewpoints.
    • Allow for a variety of modes of participation to accommodate different learning and engagement styles in your meetings.
    • Ask questions to elicit different viewpoints.
    • Look for opinions outside of your usual circle.
    • Create a psychologically safe environment and actively encourage less vocal colleagues to share their ideas.

Come back next week for Leading Innovation: Constructive Conflict & Debate.

Leading Innovation: A Marketplace of Ideas (Week 14)

A colorful idea faucet with ideas flowing

Week 14: A Marketplace of Ideas

Traditional leadership:

Conventional leadership focused on finding only the “best idea.

A fresh approach:

To innovate in the new era, your focus needs to be on generating a marketplace of many ideas. For this to happen, groups must first generate lots of ideas and keep massaging them. As Thomas A. Edison reportedly said, “To have a great idea, have a lot of them.”

Bring it to life:

    • Create forums (physical and digital) for open, free-flowing exchange of ideas, not simply brainstorming.
    • Encourage your teams to generate many good options (not just one) when solving problems.
    • Challenge your employees to delay solutions or decisions until new/more ideas surface.
    • Push teams to maximize full participation in idea generation including going outside one’s team as well as encouraging input from less vocal people.
    • Promote a culture of psychological safety so every member of the community feels free and safe to offer ideas.

 

Next week: Diversity of Thought

Take your organization to the next level with our Culture and Innovation Assessments and our Innovation Leadership Coaching

Leading Innovation: Instill an Innovation Mindset (week 13)

A dolphin swims along with a goldfish in a fishbowl on its nose

To deal with accelerating change, effective leaders are modifying the ways they inspire innovation and transformation. This week we look at instilling an innovation mindset.

 

Week 13: Instill an Innovation Mindset

Traditional leadership:

Traditional leadership has approached the task of innovation as something restricted to certain individuals, such as innovation experts, creative people, or senior management. Or they have focused on specific areas, such as a special task force or an R&D department.

This approach no longer works.

 

A fresh approach:

In the new era, innovation is viewed as a part of everyone’s job. The challenge is to help their ideas get heard and applied.

 

Bring it to life:

    • Adopt a broad definition of innovation.
    • Recognize and celebrate incremental innovations, not just breakthroughs.
    • Dispel the myth that innovation = technology. Instead, adopt the definition that innovation is “anything new + useful.”
    • Encourage a climate of curiosity.

Next Week: Generate a marketplace of ideas

Take your organization to the next level with our Culture and Innovation Assessments and our Innovation Leadership Coaching