Successful innovation doesn’t just happen overnight in organizations – it needs to be nurtured. The healthier the environment, the greater the results, according to Bob Rosenfeld, innovator-in-residence at the Center for Creative Leadership. He has some sound advice for organizations that want to be innovation leaders.
Remember, avoid the temptation to separate your “innovation” efforts from your everyday work. Instead, recognize that innovation is part of the real world, and strive to create a fostering, sustainable environment where it can prosper. In the end, innovation will either thrive or be threatened in any given working environment. Listen to these three principles to figure out what direction innovation is headed in your organization:
First, the elements of destruction are present at creation. Destructive elements to innovation aren’t always easy to see but are present from the start. The life of a product or procedure – no matter how innovative – depends on a number of factors. It is difficult, if not impossible, to manage the elements of destruction. The best anyone can do is to be aware of them and, when a seed of destruction is detected, take appropriate action.
The second principle to remember regarding innovation is this: soft values drive the organization. Hard values are results, like the scores and statistics of sports. Soft values have to do with how the game is played. Soft values such as motive, spirit, service and patience create environments conducive to innovation. By contrast, contentiousness, stubbornness, pride, indiscriminate criticism and dominating attitudes will prevent innovation from flourishing.
And the third principle to remember: trust is the means and love is the unspoken word. According to Rosenfeld, obstacles, problems, doubts and objections are frictions that slow down the innovative process. Trust and love enable that process to glide over friction.
So what does love look like in the workplace? Love means caring for others, being concerned about their personal and professional well-being and placing a high value on their interests. It means listening and trying to understand their concerns. It means respecting their intelligence and giving credit to their ideas. Loving the people within the organization gives innovation its best shot.