Innovation is Like Chocolate: Everyone likes it, but not everyone knows how to make it
To innovate effectively, organisations first need to get the ‘big picture’ right. They need to understand the need/problem/gap in the market (the WHY), and have a vision and strategy in place to resolve/fill it (the HOW).
These days, there seems to be the wide-spread belief that ‘workplace diversity’, for example, leads to innovation. This is simply not true and is unfounded. Perhaps if the statement was qualified by saying that ‘well-managed’ diversity can contribute to innovation it may be closer to the truth.
So, what tends to go wrong? Well, it’s the same thing that applies to diversity: lack or faulty execution! Yes, executing the right strategy. Surprise, surprise…
And what leads to successful execution? Action! More specifically, ‘coordinated action’ from many people (the WHO) – the often forgotten, yet, vital ingredient. In the case of innovation, such actions are what’s referred to as innovative workplace behaviour.
Innovative Workplace Behaviour
Innovative workplace behaviour refers to the behaviour that guides the initiation and introduction of new and useful ideas, processes, products or procedures within a work role, group or organisation.
Needless to say, innovative behaviour is paramount in today’s uncertain global economy where the increasing competitiveness that accompanies accelerating technological change makes organisation renewal critical.
Yet, organisational leaders struggle to make it happen.
Innovative behaviour is, above all, a relational outcome of the quality of the relationships between leaders and their teams.
Leader behaviour is an important predictor of innovative behaviour. This is the case because leaders can:
- Establish the work environment (climate) that is conducive to creative thinking and subsequent innovation;
- Set, drive and manage strategic innovation goals for the organisations they lead; and
- Cultivate and manage the quality of relationships between them and their teams.
Where to begin?
As a leader, it pays to understand exactly what innovation is and what you need to do to achieve it. Secondly, because understanding in itself is not enough, you need to find out where you are right now and your current level of innovative behaviour generating capacity.
Scott and Bruce (1994), for example, provide some useful measures of innovative behaviour.