I love Chinese Martial Arts and its philosophy.

The simplicity of Yin and Yang

And the symbol of Yin and Yang is a beautiful, visual expression of the idea of holding two, sometime competing forces into one is a compelling one and often at odds with the more linear ‘either or’ way of thinking in the west.

To borrow from Wikipedia:

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.

Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light).

From my experience Innovation has the same yin and yang quality.

Many leaders focus more on building the Yang part of innovation:

For example:

– Online idea systems

– Stage gate new product innovation processes

– Open software platforms

– Innovation KPI’s

– Meetings and brainstorming sessions

These are important but what is the use of spreading large amounts of money on a formal idea system for example if risks are not encouraged or failure punished?

Other leaders concentrate predominately on the Yin aspects of Innovation.

For example:

– Developing a more innovative culture

– Encouraging informal interactions

– Creative skill development

– Experimentation

– Risk taking

– Collaborating and sharing new information, insights, ideas and perspectives.

These are worthwhile endeavours but what is the point of generating a range of big, new ideas for example if they are not captured in a formal way?

My point is this.

To succeed in innovation you need the Yin and the Yang.

The creative and innovative culture needs to be in a dynamic tension with the formal goals, targets and online platforms.

You need to align people and process.

Engage hearts and heads.

Align imagination and analysis.

Aim for continuous small wins with a few disruptive large ones.

Balance the slow considered idea generation with an Ideas Blitz.

As a leader do you have your innovation yin and yang in balance?

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