Long believed to be key to the long-term health and success of a business, conversations about the importance of innovation have become increasingly common recently.

Leaders are now focusing even more on improving competitiveness though more innovative product development and through innovations that streamline business practices to improve efficiency. Many believe that the tough economy has encouraged innovation, resulting in business improvements.

Organizations have found that they need leaders who are focused on innovation, and who have the ability – and willingness – to think beyond short-term needs and to resist the temptation to cut back on the resources that feed innovation.

Some leaders believe that all they have to do is hire creative people and innovation will happen. Others believe that innovation is all about organizational processes – that all employees will prove to be equally innovative under the right circumstances and with the right organizational (and compensation) structures encouraging them.

The reality is that increasing innovation isn’t about either having creative people or creating a workplace that fosters innovation – both must be present for innovation to thrive.

In other words, the most creative person in the world is unlikely to innovate effectively in a company that does not support innovation, and even the most innovation-supportive companies in the world will not reach their innovation potential without creative people in place to do the work.

To better understand how to improve the innovation equation, we examined the relationships among several measures in the World Leadership Survey (WLS) and boss ratings of innovation/creativity from CCL’s Benchmarks assessment, which tells us how innovative an employee is perceived to be.

Published: September 2011
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