More than ever before, success hinges on innovation. The Industrial Revolution ushered in the era of innovation a century ago, but today’s knowledge-based economy relies on innovative minds to produce new and improved strategies, capabilities, products, processes, and services.
According to the Conference Board of Canada’s Innovation Skills Profile 2.0, an individual’s skills, attitudes and behaviors combine to make a unique contribution to an organization’s innovation performance. Collectively, these skills combine to create the organization’s capacity to innovate.
At its heart, innovation involves generating ideas. Therefore, it’s critical that you be able to look for new ways to do old things – or look for ways to do things that have never been done before. An important first step is to think about how things are currently done. Only by understanding the current state of affairs will you be able to effectively come up with new solutions. Once you have achieved this understanding, you should brainstorm and be open to whatever ideas rise to the surface.
True innovation involves risk-taking. After all, you are not doing anything new or novel if you play it safe and stick with the status quo. Regardless of where you stand on the corporate ladder, you should adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Approach the process of innovation as if you personally have everything to gain from new strategies, products, or services. Give yourself permission to take risks and experiment with new ideas. Empower everyone on your team to do the same. Be sure to always keep your eye on the goal, however. A new idea is great, but if it’s not applicable to what you are trying to accomplish, it’s worthless.
As you develop skills for innovation, include your team members in the process. Encourage them to bring forth new ideas and support them in their risk-taking. Share honest, constructive feedback and facilitate opportunities for teamwork. Spur innovation and creativity by recognizing and rewarding those whose ideas are truly original and led to improved performance.
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