Are you always on the lookout for new innovation and leadership tools? Do you go to conferences looking for the latest techniques to adopt? If you do, you’re in good company but in your search for tools you may be overlooking something much more powerful: behaviors.
Research and Development has long been at the core of innovation efforts of companies worldwide. While many other innovation tools have since come into use, R & D remains an essential activity—especially in any technology sector. And so it is with individuals.
No, performance is not what it’s all about. In fact, it’s possible to put too much emphasis on performance…and as a result undermine your business objectives. That’s right, I said “undermine”. Now, before you decide that I’m some sort of heretic…or just came unhinged, hear me out. You may find that you agree with me.
The way organizations review ideas is no doubt heavily impacted by the mental models people hold. Yet those beliefs are rarely surfaced and examined. One of the primary reasons that one person likes almost any idea, while someone else rejects it, has a great deal to do with the mental models each person holds.
We all carry around a great many mental models and we probably haven’t given much thought to most of them. Yet, they may have a profound effect on how we behave. They impact the way we interact with people and strive to motivate and lead.
A healthy innovation culture not only promotes creativity and execution, it’s one in which a strong sense of reality permeates the place. Successful innovation isn’t about denying reality or shading the truth; it’s about finding real solutions to real problems. Integrity is its foundation.
Finding ways to overcome our assumptions and varying from standard practice puts us on a path to high value breakthroughs. Yet that’s where we often encounter the greatest resistance.
There are proven techniques that get around these problems, approaches that encourage decentralized independent decisions, which are more accurately predictive, and boost engagement and commitment as well. These approaches emphasize differing perspectives and resist the temptation to force consensus (and the mediocrity that often entails).
Innovative leadership is about being someone who has made this mental shift. It also means giving others the latitude and encouragement they need to do the same. The payoff is an organizational shift away from resistance to change and the tendency to just hunker down, to a much more engaged sense of, “I’m ready world, give me your best shot.”
What is it about attempts at creativity and discovery that so frequently prompt us to turn up our noses and sniff, “Well that’s not really new.” As if to say that if it’s not a world class breakthrough, it simply doesn’t qualify. We don’t do that with other skills and behaviors.