I have found over the years that often when leading innovation, it is about choices. The big choice to do "any innovation at all" could almost be considered the easy one. Innovation is shown to make a meaningful impact to a company's bottom line, their return, and to employee wallets and morale. Doing the new thing isn't necessarily hard it's making the decision to NOT do other things that are hard.
Often when you talk to people about innovation you hear a lot of the same stuff; "We can't work any more! Our plates are full! Innovation is nice, but there is really no time! I'm way too busy, already!" At that point it is often easier for a leader to walk away and put off the innovation decision till later when your team says, "Hey, I have time for something new and I've noticed our earnings are down." If you are waiting for that line - well, it probably will never happen.
The responsibility of a true leader isn't about beating the employees down to do more. Many times the employees aren't lying when they say that they are over their heads with work and are having a hard time getting above water. What a leader need to do is prioritize innovation for the team. As a leader it is your job to point your team in the right direction and you can do this by starting to say "NO".
4 Things an Innovation Leader should do today:
- Say "no" to projects that are ongoing that aren't going to make the company any money.
- Say "no" to projects that NEVER progress and are stagnate.
- Say "no" to the customer that just wants a cheaper price (it is okay to fire a customer).
- Say "no" to mediocre projects that make no significant difference.
Now think about today and what the day looks like for you and your team, and ask yourself these questions:
- What can I say "NO" to for my team so it can stay focused on innovation?
- What project is the team working on that's NOT related to innovation?
- What meetings and events are on your calendar that you should say "NO" to?
Just by saying "NO" you and your team will gain the freedom to work on innovation and do great things!