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Are you serious about driving innovation in your organization? Sustaining innovation is a process with many components that interact in a dynamic and energizing way. According to Bob Rosenfeld, the Center for Creative Leadership’s Innovator in Residence and author of Making the Invisible Visible: The Human Principles for Sustaining Innovation, it’s all too easy to let specific issues or tactics dominate your efforts. By learning key principles, leaders and organizations can stay focused on the essence of innovation.

Listen to these five principles which, according to Rosenfeld, give life to the process:

First, Innovation starts when people convert problems to ideas. New ideas are born through questions, problems and obstacles. In order for the innovation process to flourish, it needs a climate that encourages inquiry and welcomes problems.

Second, Innovation also needs a system. All organizations have innovation systems. Some are formal, designed by the leadership, and some are informal, taking place outside established channels. Systems for innovation fall into one of five categories: originator-assisted; targeted innovation; internal venturing; continuous improvement; or strategic transfer.

The third principle: Passion is the fuel, and pain is the hidden ingredient. Passion is what propels ideas. It’s what transforms other resources into profits, but it never shows up on a balance sheet. Unfortunately, when pursuing a passion or following a dream, pain is part of the process. Innovation leaders need to take the pain with the passion and learn to manage both effectively.

A fourth principle that underlies the methods for innovation: Co-locating drives effective exchange. Co-location refers to physical proximity between people. It is a key for building the trust that is essential to the innovation process. It also increases the possibility for greater exchange of information, stimulation of creative thinking in one another and critique of ideas during their formative stage.

And lastly, Differences should be leveraged. The differences that normally divide people — such as language, culture, and problem solving styles — can be a boon to innovation. When differences are used constructively, they can be leveraged to enhance and sustain the innovation process.

Use these five principles in your organization to stay focused and stay ahead!

Upcoming CCL Innovation Leadership Roundtables in EMEA

In these interactive innovation leadership roundtables, Bert De Coutere will explore ways to enhance your thinking and assumptions about innovation. He will address the main question: “What is leading for innovation?” and invite the audience to discuss in groups the reasons that are stopping us getting innovation done in our companies. The opportunity will be given to network in a dynamic way thanks to experiential exercises and to get you some innovation leadership concepts to become an innovation leader. For additional information about our upcoming events, please contact



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