I would imagine most leaders would like to see more and better business innovation and growth in their business.

Nothing revolutionary with this observation.

But how to bring this about?

From my experience there are two ways:

Lets call it a passive vs active innovation mindset.

A Passive Innovation Mindset

This is a situation where leaders believe that innovation will emerge of its own accord e.g. by launching an employee idea suggestion scheme. In these circumstances managers assume that a single once-off action is enough and/or that suddenly ideas will flourish by building an ideas platform (for example).

Unfortunately both assumptions are wrong.

It is not the case that ‘build it and they will come.’

Innovation like any change program has to be encouraged and nourished.

A once-off visit to the gym for example, will not lead to a fitter, healthier body but a regular fitness program certainly will.

It is the same with innovation.

In my research leaders often talked about removing the barriers to innovation in the hope that new ideas would flow e.g. long idea evaluation lead times.

But taking these actions by themselves often did not result in enhanced innovation.

They need to do something more.

An Active Innovation Mindset

By contrast, an active (or proactive) innovation mindset assumes that new ways of thinking and acting requires a ‘bit of a nudge’. Much like if you a shy you sometimes need a friend that can help you make that first approach.

What’s more it needs to be done regularly.

With active innovation, leaders need to talk about innovation constantly, recognise and reward it.

They should celebrate small wins and proactively develop (for example) a calendar of innovation events.

Leaders need to give teams and groups new tools such as Blitz so that everyone has the opportunity and skills to innovate — on demand.

Creativity and innovation cannot be controlled but it can be stimulated.

What sort of innovative mindset do you have – a passive or active one?

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