Friday, October 21

Building more innovative organizations  

From innovation guru Lynne Levesque:

Recent research to address the challenges facing leaders eager to build more innovative organizations has led to some interesting results, including the identification of several key drivers of innovation. These include:
* A leadership style that is humble, open to input, curious, willing to experiment, and truly values people;
* Flexible processes that promote communication, creative decision making, new ways of doing things, focus, and execution; and
* Metrics that drive accountability and progress.

The research also led to the conclusion that the practices promoting innovation in a company are the enduring principles of good management. These principles drive innovation, but they have also been shown to promote high employee satisfaction, morale and thus well satisfied, loyal customers and long-term organizational success.

The research also identified three reasons for the tough challenges leaders face in building an organization for top performance, one where innovation, high morale and customer satisfaction thrive:

1. The first is that there is almost too much separate focus on innovation. To be truly successful, an organization needs to embed innovative practices and metrics into the fabric of the organization.

2. The second is that an organization's ability to respond quickly to customers and to come up with new ways of doing business depends to a great extent on the leadership style at the top. When senior leaders of an organization — no matter how large or small — are open to being challenged, remain curious and willing to experiment, and truly value and listen to others, then their employees will ask questions and come up with new ideas and solutions. This type of leadership style, however, is not easy for leaders to adopt, especially if they have to fight, in one academic's words, "the very human tendency to cling to [different] formulas that worked well in the past."

3. The third is that prescriptions for what actions to take to build a more innovative organization are often made with the assumption that all leaders are the same. These recommendations rarely recognize the role of different personality preferences even though those preferences, like functional backgrounds and other demographics, have a significant impact on the strategic choices of leaders and their teams.

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