Leaders Need to Drive Innovation

Leaders Need to Drive InnovationIt continues to amaze me; actually it would be really depressing if the sun was not shining in at present. So what makes me potentially depressed?

Although our business leaders constantly confirm that innovation is in their top three priorities yet they stay stubbornly disengaged in facilitating this across their organizations, especially the larger ones. Of course I am not suggesting this is all our business leaders but a higher level than we care to admit too.

Innovation is still a mystery for many leaders

I would argue innovation and its ‘make up’ remains a mystery to nearly all our leaders. They are more than willing to allocate responsibility down the organization, failing to recognize their pivotal role in managing or orchestrating innovation engagement themselves, or even ensuring the mechanisms are fully in place. Why is this?

Time and time again you read one report after another, about the leadership gap in innovation or issues relating to innovation disconnecting from the top of the organization. Can they all be wrong, if not then why aren’t our CEO’s listening?

Why are we not resolving this and only just keep reporting it, it seems it is falling on deaf ears? Those deaf ears are the shareholders and the external directors responsible, the members on the board, surely each are pushing for growth through innovation, I trust? Maybe not, perhaps they are entirely happy to ‘limp’ along on the road to know where special.

The one really important thing we need to get established within all our organizations, large and small is a “well-articulated innovation strategy. This  is by far the most important constraint for companies to reach their innovation targets.” These are the conclusions from a joint study by Capgemini Consulting and IESE in their report “Innovation leadership study”

In the report they mentioned not just the lack of many formal mechanisms were missing but the total environment for innovation was missing this explicit innovation strategy.

That is such a serious failure at the top of organizations in my opinion. How can leaders expect innovation if they remain unclear of their role and function in facilitating and encouraging it? Can this change?

The present argument needs moving on and resolving

There is no argument surely that we need to break into this leadership gap around innovation? We need to offer suggestions towards their role, to address this lack of engagement or awareness? We need to provide an organizing framework that achieves alignment into the organizations goals and provides the structure across innovation that can ‘cascade’ down and across an organization.

The end aim is that so all those involved within the organization, or closely associated with it, can relate too and ‘gather’ around an overarching framework, articulated and constructed from the top, that guides innovation. As many of you have read and positively responded, Jeffrey Philips and I have developed the Executive Innovation Work Mat.

We want to narrow this leadership gap and organization understanding so as to achieve a specific connection between leaders and their role in how they can facilitate and bridge this clear divide and present seen ‘impediment’ for innovation. The leaders of organizations are no different from all the employees working within the company, they are all looking to secure a sustaining future and participate in a vibrant one that primarily comes from the innovation engine needed for all businesses and economic growth.

We seek to bridge the innovation leadership gap

The contribution of the leaders within organizations falls mainly on defining their roles and points of influence when it comes to innovation. To achieve this it requires mapping out the innovation landscape, laying out its parts in a coherent way for all to relate too. We believe this work mat framework approach can be one of the primary organizing ways for that engagement and identification so much needed.

In organizations this needs internal discussions to recognize this ‘gap’ and then gain the leadership’s attention to how this can be addressed. The proposed integrated innovation work mat framework might be the place to start and our arguments might be the catalyst.

We can offer a clear ‘way forward’ for engagement and alignment that can help, perhaps radically, the organization to establish innovation firmly into the minds of the boardroom and their vital role to play within this real need for all to engage in.

Just suggesting it lifts me spirits, maybe I’m not as depressed as I first thought, optimism has entered the room along with the sunshine. It is certainly the appropriate time we got our leaders fully engaged in innovation and understanding the critical role they  should be playing.

image credit: photo-dictionary.com

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Paul HobcraftPaul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.

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5 Responses to Leaders Need to Drive Innovation

  1. Paul, I agree with everythig you say. However I feel that emphasising Innovation as what is required to drive businesses forward can be the ‘off putter’!

    The business needs to know what its purpose is and where it is going and then they will be forced to innovate in order to achieve it!

    Would love to have a longer chat about it:)


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  5. Marc Hirsch says:

    I’d like to fully embrace your thoughts, but can’t. Let’s look at “companies” as small, medium and large. Small companies can and need to be quick to move, proactive and innovative. This is to continue to exist to maintain a competitive advantage with their larger peers or other trying to follow their lead.

    On the other hand, large companies; except the few who were built on innovation, are mostly led by people who have come up through an organization and its (usually) conservative ranks. Large companies have acknowledged that the culture as a whole won’t necessarily embrace or nurture innovation, which is why they create businesses for NBD and innovation.

    Medium companies can go either way, or may have been a small company and or their way to grow to a larger one.

    I don’t think that anyone would disagree that most innovative people are that way by nature. Some can be nurtured, but some people are not innovative, don’t want to be and that is fine. Management doesn’t need to be innovative for the entire organization, but the culture has to be such so that people aren’t afraid to take risks, are rewarded for doing so, and it is transparent that it is important. I think that CEO’s “get it”, but they are responsible for the whole basket of eggs, so their focus is to ensure that if a few are broken, that there are still enough left to make an omelette.

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