In an organization innovation needs supporters. Who might they be?
Is it your Board of Directors? Is your Board a group of people open to change, who recognize the importance balancing the future and the present and who will support risk-taking with open eyes? Or is it a bunch of old fogies (or young fogies) intent on squeezing maximum profit now and ready to blame you for everything when you do not deliver next quarter?
Is it your C-suite? Does your top team drive innovation and change with its mind and heart, with clarity in its targets, openness of spirit and focus on innovative actions? Or are your senior managers content with preserving the systems and culture that worked so well in the past without rocking the boat?
Is it your middle management? Are your managers developing into leaders by managing change that comes from outside and from above and indeed by initiating change themselves? Or are they a conservative constituency, suspicious of new thinking and action, protective of the organization chart and their own silos and unwilling to empower their own people?
Is it your R & D Department? Do you have a broad minded set of people generating imaginative new products and services in collaboration with your clients, suppliers and their colleagues? Or do you have a narrow minded clique who will always reject whatever is “not invented here”?
Is it your Marketing Department? Are your marketers strategists who are constantly seeking new ways of relating to your clients and constantly seeking new clients? Or are they pompous asses who are convinced that only they have a right to be called “creative” and who spend all their time writing briefs to publicity agencies?
Is it your IT Department? Are your information technologists at the cutting edge, constantly seeking to be ahead of your competition in close collaboration with their users? Or are they boring programming geeks writing code blissfully unaware of the world out there?
Could it be everybody in your company? Are all your people irrespective of rank enthusiastically bringing forward new ideas in their own areas and in others and do all people accept, digest and process these ideas and rally for the implementation of the best ones? Or are they simply content if they just do their jobs?
Am I asking too many questions? I suggest all these questions are important because discovering your creative community is important. Innovation in organizations is not a solo act and driving innovation in a dynamic way is key to any leadership role. Ideally, mobilizing everyone’s creativity and making it thrive alongside an order of strategies and systems that promote innovation is what all organizations should be doing. The power of a mass movement is generally more potent than that of an elite. If they cannot get the masses on their side, innovative leaders may have to consider which of the above constituencies (or other constituencies) are the most likely proponents and which are the most likely inhibitors to innovation. And how to deal with them too.
Your creative community is after all your best ally in your innovation quest.
image credit: usa.helpministriesinternational.com
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Dimis Michaelides, Managing Director at Performa Consulting, is global business consultant and keynote speaker on The Art of Innovation. His book, The Art of Innovation: Integrating Creativity in Organizations, was published in 2007.