Someone once told me this: “Innovation is like an apparition of the Virgin Mary: one person saw her, but everyone talks about it.” Although funny, the quote aptly captures an attitude towards innovation that exists in many companies today. Innovation – and the skills that enable it – are sometimes considered as mystical gifts, preserved for the chosen few. In other cases, innovation is feared, because it involves unregulated processes, risk taking and investments with unpredictable outcomes.
Innovation. The word is tossed around carelessly, and is repeatedly illustrated with the same few business cases. Some of the usual suspects include autonomous transport (Google, Tesla), wearable tech (Apple) and of course … the sharing economy (Uber, Airbnb).
Innovation is a business discipline
A lot of business leaders know they want innovation, yet they struggle to define what it actually means to them. Simply put, innovation is about making changes that add business value, in terms of either revenue growth or increased operational efficiency. This value can be created in four ways:
- introducing new products;
- optimizing operational processes;
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The process of visioning may seem both daunting and mysterious. Indeed, it is in no way a straightforward method and there are always rocky rapids to navigate. An understanding of the make-up of this journey will create better results for this process to be a success.
Visioning – the process of coming up with breakthrough ideas – is often assumed to be an isolated and instantaneous affair. We have images of the isolated creative genius experiencing a moment of eureka! in the bathtub, or a great vision while fasting in the desert
If creative leadership can enable their teams to work and interact in an open, connected network, this significantly increases the chance of these ‘lucky’ moments. We know that being an extravert does not correlate with being creative, but being connected does.
It is a path but not a straight one
If visioning is a path rather than a moment it is anything but a straight deductive, linear process to a certain outcome. Instead it is a process that ebbs and flows, that often feels like two steps forward and one step back, sometimes even more steps back.
Read more about Visioning – 7 Essential Characteristics at Innovation Management
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