Five Steps to Hack the Innovation Process on Your Team

The phrase, “speed kills,” was coined in an era where, by comparison to today, time seemingly advanced at the pace of my five-mile run—very, very slowly. Gone are the days of long-term strategic plans or slow development of big new projects and products. 

While long-term visions are always in style, the roadmap to reaching those lofty destinations unfolds in a series of often disconnected and discontinuous endeavors. It is a world of epic quests and continuous leveling up!

  1. Perpetuate the idea that anyone and any team can innovate. Don’t leave all of the fun to the research and development or technical types. While there are degrees of innovation ranging from never been done before to a new twist on an old idea, there are ample opportunities to do new things or old things in new ways on your team. Work with the group to begin collecting ideas.
  2. Generate walls of ideas. Fill the walls with whiteboards or flipcharts and encourage anyone and everyone to regularly review the items—to add their own thoughts and to jump and build on prior ideas.
  3. Get outside of your walls to stimulate more ideas. From observing and talking with internal and external customers and partners to looking closely at best in practice firms for your area of the business (regardless of industry), you must get your team thinking about and looking for ideas.
  4. Work with the team to distill the walls of ideas down into a manageable set of experiments. Ideally, you are working on one idea each of the short-term, mid-range and long-term. Gain support from your boss and other stakeholders for the experiment. If it fails, roll up and share widely the lessons learned and keep moving. If the initiative merits more investment, it is definitely time to get your executive involved.
  5. Celebrate small victories. Teams march and perform based on a sense of shared mission. As you gain critical new insights and translate these into innovations or improvements, shout about the successes far and wide. Give credit to all of the individuals involved and make the story of their work part of the lore of the culture.

The Bottom Line for Now:
Leading and managing in this era is a full-contact activity of involvement, engagement, and support. While the basics of leading are unchanged over the centuries, the context in which we lead is profoundly different today than at any time in human history. The best leaders and managers constantly rethink their role; they strive for feedback and they measure their success by the successes of their team members. And they do all this today by placing a premium on agility and adaptability as they navigate at the speed of change. 

Part of the article"3 Leadership Hacks to Accelerate Success in an Era of Change"

Art Petty Popular leadership and management author and speaker - Adjunct instructor for DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business - Writer of several books on management and leadershipalert-info
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