I used to believe that in order to be innovative, we all have to innovate the same way, my way.
Usually, that involves stepping outside my comfort zone and daring to be fearless. My way of innovating includes getting super uncomfortable and taking big risks. Obviously, since that’s how I tend to innovate, you should too. Then when you don’t or, what I later came to learn, can’t innovate that way, I get frustrated that you can’t do what I think is obvious. And you get frustrated because your innovation efforts fail.
This could be exactly why your innovation efforts are failing. As a leader you want, and even demand, innovative ideas and solutions from your team. You set the tone and the approach for innovation. And even with all this effort on your part, it falls short.
Here’s what’s happening. You are making the mistake I did all those years ago. You are expecting everyone to innovate the same way, your way. What my 25 years of work and research have taught me is that being innovative is universal, we all do it. But, how we innovate is unique to each of us.
It’s when we give ourselves, and the people around us, the knowledge of how they innovate naturally and permission to flex their innovation muscles their way that you’ll get that sought-after culture of innovation that creates measurable results.
In analyzing the results from the tens of thousands of people that have taken our Innovation Quotient Edge (IQE) Assessment we’ve discovered that it’s the combination of the top two power drivers, of the nine drivers, that combine to create an individual’s Innovator Archetype. In other words, there are two ways that you innovate naturally. Two ways deep inside of you that are wellsprings of innovative ideas and solutions.
It may not always feel like that. Maybe your job has “untrained” you. Maybe you’ve been shut down so much you stopped doing what actually comes naturally. Or maybe years doing it someone else’s way has made your innovative approach a little dusty.
People that understand how they naturally innovate, their top drivers, are more likely to apply those skills on a daily basis. And in understanding the differences between how they innovate relative to their teammates, they better respect and collaborate.
Just imagine if we all had to innovate like Steve Jobs with his futuristic visions. Or if we all had to make up ideas from scratch like JK Rowling. What if we had to be experimental like Einstein or DaVinci? What if they had to be like each other?
The next time you are frustrated with the lack of innovation coming from yourself or your team, ask yourself:
- Am I only making room for one approach to innovation?
- Am I expecting people to approach innovation the same way I do?
- Am I giving my team the room they need to innovate their way?
- Am I trying to innovate like someone else?
You need to give yourself and your team permission to innovate in a way that works for them. At the end of the day, it’s not how they innovate you care about, it’s the results from that innovation that matter.
The more room you can provide for different innovation approaches, the more likely you are to get to the outcome you seek – innovation that helps you compete, and win.
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Tamara Kleinberg of GoToLaunchStreet is a TED speaker and entrepreneur. From building and running multimillion dollar businesses, advising Fortune 500 like Disney, Procter and Gamble and RICOH on fostering innovative ideas and people. Tamara’s life is about breaking through the status quo for game-changing results, and that’s what her keynotes, online programs and assessments can do for you.