Leading Innovation is about choices. The big choice to do innovation could almost be considered the easy one. Innovation is shown to make a meaningful impact to a bottom line, to a company’s return, to employee pocket books and morale. Doing the new thing isn’t necessarily hard, it’s NOT doing other things that forces you to make choices that’s hard. When innovation is at stake, when you have people clamoring, “We can’t work any more! Our plates are full! Innovation is nice, but we have no time! We’re too busy!” It would be easy at that point to walk away and just put off the innovation decision until later. Until the day when your employees come back and tell you, “What else can we do for you? We’ve finished all of our tasks early and we’d like to do more. We noticed that earnings aren’t what they once were so we’d like to give back a bit of our pay.” (And if you’re saying to yourself, that’s a long-shot - you’d be right.)
The responsibility you have as the leader isn’t about beating them down to do more. Many times they truly are over their head with work and can’t find a place to catch a breath.
Your job as the leader is to set priorities...and the biggest way to do that is to start saying no.
Saying no to projects that are ongoing that aren’t going to make the company any new money.
Saying no to projects that never seem to progress.
Saying no to customers that just want a cheaper price and nothing else.
Saying no to mediocre projects that aren’t making a big difference.
So when you look out on your day today and think about what the day looks like for your team, I ask you to think...
What can I say “no” to for them so they can stay focused on innovation?
What project are they working on that’s NOT related to innovation?
What meetings and events do you have on your calendar that you should say no to?
Saying “NO” can give you and your staff the freedom to do the great innovation work the’d love to.