The word innovation has become ubiquitous. Just because something is new – whether it’s a mission statement, product, service, or business—doesn’t mean it deserves to proclaim itself innovative.
Innovation is not about doing an old thing in a new way. It’s about creating a new way to do something new, or a new way to do something better. Inherently, innovation must be disruptive – unaccepting of the status quo and committed to transforming a new approach into reality. Innovation isn’t just a new way of doing. It’s a new way of thinking.
For any endeavor—a business model, an idea, a desire for social change—to be innovative and achieve greater impact, the first person that needs to be comfortable with the idea of fundamental change is the leader.
How comfortable are you, as a leader, with new? Often, we’re uncomfortable with new processes and approaches. We’re uncomfortable with that which is unfamiliar. We may be uncomfortable with a commitment to communicating more effectively. We’re uncomfortable with calculating the results we achieve, for fear they will not measure up to expectations. We’re uncomfortable with delegation and with those who challenge our thinking, fearing we will lose control.
How comfortable are you with being disruptive?
As a leader, are you willing to practice the change you expect of your team? Are you willing to truly embrace innovation? Are you willing to be disruptive, not only in how you deliver a product or service, but also in how you instigate change?
Are you willing to change the way you think?
Innovation occurs when we change the way we think, in order to transform the way we (and our customers and stakeholders) behave and experience our product, service, or business.
Are you ready to be disruptive?
Innovation requires different processes, performance measurements, models, and metrics. Disruption is one of those uncomfortable processes by which we seek to improve and build upon the positive work that has begun—to refine and push past where we currently stand.
A high-performing organization must dare to be disruptive, particularly in the manner in which it chooses to communicate. It must seek ways to disrupt the expectations of clients and convey the outcomes of its work to new audiences.
Where can you begin to be disruptive? Recognize that your customers or audience choose your product, service, or organization because of what it means to them, not because of what you have to offer. Acknowledge that your team will be more engaged when they share your purpose and find deeper meaning in why they work.
Creating a culture of communication and innovation will take time. Begin with what you can do today, and one day/one person at a time, you’ll nurture your own culture of innovation.