6 Ways to Lead Innovation in your Organization

Large and small enterprises need to renew their products and services to compete with newcomers to the market, as well as shrinking product and business life cycles. We’ve identified six steps to help you lead innovation and find ways to stay relevant.

When Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said, “The heart and soul of any company is creativity and innovation,” he was addressing his top 400 executives at the iconic company’s annual general meeting. “The riskiest thing Disney can do is maintain the status quo,” he continued.

Iger went on to tell the audience that business as usual, which in Disney’s case was relying on Disney classics like Mickey Mouse and theme parks, was not going to last. What they needed to do was to come up with new ways of marketing their characters, and new ways to reach tech-savvy audiences.

Developing innovation leaders

Innovation can happen in any company, regardless of size or history. According to this Fortune article, “startups, smaller companies, and academic institutions currently drive most of our nation’s innovation. It doesn’t have to be this way. Companies like Google, 3M, Disney, and Apple show that corporations can stay creative even as they grow large. Many people call these companies “experts on innovation,” but the truth is a bit more nuanced. These organizations don’t just develop innovative ideas; they develop innovation leaders.”

If you’d like to drive innovation in your organization, try these six ways so you can become an innovation leader:

Understand what innovation means to your organization

Explore what innovation means and why it is essential. Aim to gain confidence in your ability to create innovation, assemble teams, build trust and openness.

Know your customers

By conducting research, you will understand the pain points, problems and needs of your user/customers and develop empathy to reveal insights and discover opportunities to identify the right problem to solve, exploring how to fall in love with the problem without necessarily knowing the solution.

No idea is a bad idea

Aim to come up with a wide range of ideas or solutions to real problems in a short time. Apply practical methods for individual and collaborative brainstorming, as well as building confidence in how to facilitate idea generation processes in teams.

Have fun prototyping and testing

Rapid prototyping tools can help you bring ideas into life and share them with real users to get feedback and refine the solution. Explore a fast and iterative process and a new mindset of learning by doing.

Perfect the art of pitching ideas

Crafting pitches for innovation in collaboration with your team gets easier the more you do it. Creating a clear story with emotional value and business relevance will really inspire your audience. Use visual storytelling tools to motivate your team, your users, your client and anyone in your organization.

Run with it

After the first five steps, you will have experienced the process of generating and executing an original idea, gaining an understanding of how to cultivate an environment that enables teams to navigate that process.

Learn from the experts

The author of the Fortune article mentioned above is Bill George, who wrote the book Discover Your True North all about leadership and innovation, ends by saying, “(Bob) Iger calls creativity “the heart and soul of Disney,” but, in truth, innovation leaders are at the core of every creative company. Without their leadership, companies begin to manage for short-term results and eventually decline. To stay ahead of their competitors, companies must have innovation leaders who inspire the creativity of others.”

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, we explore all these themes in our business and innovation courses or if you feel your company could be interested in knowing more about how to lead innovation throughout your organization, view our Business Solutions