Building the habits for Innovation

Most organisations recognise that the skills, products and structures that got them to where they are today aren’t the same that will be required to get them to where they need to be in the innovatiove future.

In fact, the top 5 innovation barriers for large organisations by the Harvard Business review are:

  1. Politics, turf wars and lack of allignment
  2. Cultural issues
  3. Inability to act on critical signals
  4. Lack of budget
  5. lack of strategy/vision

Full Article Here

These challenges are all relevant to an organisation in various degrees and no matter which lists you hunt out, they are all pretty much the same.

When we go to work for an organisation, the reason an organisation is the size it is, is down to the systems and processes that it adopts to help it grow. The challange with this is that when someone mandates that they would like their people or business to innovate, the current structures and systems are counter productive to be able to support creativity and innovation.

As a starting point, an organisation may assign an innovation function to a team to make it responsible to “make it happen”.

This strategy of team ownership does what the organisation is generally great at, making it someone’s responsibility. What this really subconsciously shows to the rest of the organisation is that this is the team that “innovates”. No one else. Or you end up in a turf war between innovation teams and ideas.

Really, innovation is not an assigned responsibility, but a culture of looking at problems and solving them differently including any members of the organisation.

This needs to happen across an organisation as a cultural aspect, not just to a team that handles the innovation process.

How can you kickstart some new innovation habits to drive your thinking?

I recently read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and then was fortunate to hear him speak delivering a Keynote.

The process of building new habits is something that I believe needs to happen in organisations to develop new innovation pathways to be formed.

Rather than create an Innovation team which supports “hey ,we have this covered”, or engage a 3rd party such as a large consulting company to hear “what’s best practice in this space”, I believe that we need to find the creative misfits in an organisation and get them to build new innovation habits. The organisational journey needs to start by doing something differently than we normally do day to day.

How can we expect a different outcome if we continually apply the same thinking and processes that we have always adopted in our organisations?

With this in mind, I obviously recommend you read Atomic Habits, and apply some of the learnings to develop your own Innovation Agenda.

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