After an unrelenting focus on cutting costs, organizations must now innovate. To succeed, they will have to embrace, grow and nurture their workers.
· Humans have abundant enthusiasm and creative energy when they are doing what they love. Let people have a say in their next assignment. Don’t let managers hang on to talent like they are prisoners.
· Nurture deep and intimate institutional experience amongst your staff. This drives breakthroughs because it provides a large number of threads of knowledge which can be woven together to unlock innovation. Conversely, superficial institutional experience is like a threadbare fabric that is most likely to fail.
· If you are a leader, be a great audience. Encourage people to be creative, reward them and openly praise their success.
· Build an open environment, where ideas are valued, not dismissed. As Einstein said, "The important thing is to not stop questioning." If you don’t have a culture where people are comfortable to speak up, the important questions will never be asked.
· Social milieu drives creativity. Great explosions of creativity throughout history have come in clusters, so people clearly feed on the knowledge and passion of others. The more creative your teams, the greater the likelihood it will be expressed.
· Build a blame-free culture. Innovation is often about trying and failing. If failure becomes blame, then you have an innovation short-circuit.
Lastly, don’t try to quantify the value of each driver. Build the right culture, embrace your talent and innovation will come. I truly believe we are entering a time where leaders will become the servants, and productivity will flow like a wellspring.
About the Author
Frank Wander, a former CIO, is founder and CEO of the IT Excellence Institute, and author of Transforming IT Culture, How to Use Social Intelligence, Human Factors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms (Wily, 2013). For his previous CIO Insight article, “Offshoring: Pathway to a Competitive Disadvantage,” click here.
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