Leaders often ask me how to build a more innovative organisation?

My answer is always the same.

I ask them how much do they talk about innovation?

Sometimes this elicits puzzled looks.

My point is this.

Leaders have to send direct, clear messages that innovation is important.

And the best way to do this is to continuously talk about innovation.

– In every presentation.

– In every team meeting.

– In every quarterly update.

I would go further — every manager, every week should have agenda item headed innovation in every one of their meetings.

As Tom Peter’s once said, if you want more innovation — just ask for it.

I am surprised how many leaders don’t talk about the very thing they want to build and according to research they rank as among their top three strategic priorities.

Talking about innovation works at many different levels:

– It sends cues to all staff what is important.

–  It gives people permission to talk about ideas and creativity (i.e. an innovation mindset).

– By talking about innovation you prompt people to reflect on what have they done that is innovative lately?

– It starts to build a more innovative culture one conversation at a time.

– It gives them a language to talk about anything in the organisation that is new, different and potentially valuable.

– It provides a platform to recognise new ideas and people behaving in a innovative way.

– You can remind people what it is, how the business is going with its innovation efforts and why innovation is vital for the health of the business.

– It sends messages to suppliers, partners, investors and customers what you most care about.

– And finally it gives leaders an opportunity to talk about one of the core values of the organisation (i.e. in most organisations innovation is one of the key values).

In summary:

Language is important. Your word-choice sends messages as to what you value and what you would like to focus on.

Innovation, Innovation and Innovation………………………

You can never talk about it enough.



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