7 Strategies for Sustained Innovation

Written by Dr. Robert Karlsberg and Dr. Jane Adler

The need for constant reinvention is a given in today’s business environment. And while a breakthrough product or concept can catapult an organization ahead of its competitors, in these fast-paced times, that advantage is often short-lived. 

While major product or service breakthroughs make headlines, it’srepparttar steady incremental innovations made by employees every day that give an organizationrepparttar 119452 sustained growth it needs.

Sustained innovation comes from developing a collective sense of purpose; from unleashingrepparttar 119453 creativity of people throughout your organization and from teaching them how to recognize unconventional opportunities.  

As innovative ideas surface, a clear sense of mission empowers front-line employees to act on new ideas that further your company’s purpose. 

It Starts atrepparttar 119454 Top

Leaders createrepparttar 119455 psychological environment that fosters sustained innovation at all levels. The challenge is that as an organization grows, management structures and bureaucracies, designed to channel growth, tend to create barriers to small-scale enhancements. 

While there are exceptions, in larger organizations employees tend to feel removed fromrepparttar 119456 function of innovation and are less likely to take independent action or offer revolutionary ideas.

The commitment to establishingrepparttar 119457 right psychological conditions for innovation needs to start atrepparttar 119458 top. This means that, as a leader, you need to consider your own assumptions about innovation and their role in creating and changing your organization’s culture.

You need to appreciaterepparttar 119459 value of incremental as well as major innovations, understandrepparttar 119460 psychology of innovation and takerepparttar 119461 lead in promoting an innovative culture. Otherwise, it’s just not going to happen. While your organization’s innovative capability depends on multiple factors, there are several steps you can take to createrepparttar 119462 psychological conditions that favor inventive thinking, regardless of your industry orrepparttar 119463 size of your organization.

Establish A Clear Sense of Direction

Changing cultures involves changing minds, and that takes time. But as with any initiative, a clear sense ofrepparttar 119464 target helps to speedrepparttar 119465 journey.

Your organization’s mission helps to organize and directrepparttar 119466 creativity of its people. What isrepparttar 119467 purpose of consistent innovation in your enterprise? Is it to add customer value to existing products and services…to speed delivery…to increase on-time arrivals? 

Having a clearly articulated message allows everyone to focus on innovation where it can deliverrepparttar 119468 greatest value. Innovation, as Peter Drucker has defined it, means creating a new dimension of performance. A sense of mission clarifiesrepparttar 119469 direction of performance and helps determine which new ideas to focus on.

Open Communication

Open communication between management and employees setsrepparttar 119470 stage for an atmosphere of trust. But if you want to establish a new, more trusting culture, you can’t expect employees to takerepparttar 119471 first step. 

Company leadership initiatesrepparttar 119472 process of open communication by sharing information with employees on a regular basis. This includes good news and bad. 

Southwest Airlines policy of sharing information enabledrepparttar 119473 company to weatherrepparttar 119474 sudden increase in fuel costs duringrepparttar 119475 1990-91 Gulf War. The company kept everyone informed as fuel prices soared. Southwest’s CEO Herb Kelleher sent a memo to pilots asking for their help. Through inventive thinking,repparttar 119476 pilots found ways to rapidly drop fuel consumption without compromising safety or service.           

Leaders of organizations that sustain innovation offer multiple opportunities for communication.

While not every company can offer an open-door policy for its senior executives, or even a chance for regular face-to-face contact, every organization can institute programs that enable front-line workers to feel heard. From CEO lunches with cross-sections of employees, to monthly division meetings between employees andrepparttar 119477 general manager, to open intranet forums for idea sharing and feedback, leaders can communicate their openness to hearing innovative ideas from those who are closest torepparttar 119478 customer.

Reduce bureaucracy 

While larger organizations are often considered less entrepreneurial and inventive than their smaller counterparts, it’s notrepparttar 119479 size of your company that inhibits innovation -- it’srepparttar 119480 systems. Bureaucracy slows down action and is a serious impediment to innovation.

Present your statistics in context for more impact

Written by Helen Wilkie

“I didn’t have 3000 pairs of shoes. I had only 1600 pairs.”—Imelda Marcos

Everything’s relative. A million dollars sounds like a lot of money to someone who makes an average salary, but it’s a drop inrepparttar bucket to a Warren Buffett or a Bill Gates. Running a hundred metres in a few seconds seems like a miracle to ordinary mortals, but a track and field athlete will work hard to shave even more off that time.

Yet presenters often quote statistics without benchmarks, sorepparttar 119451 audience doesn’t know how to evaluate them. Is $10,000 a lot of money? Well it is for a bicycle. It’s not much for a house, unless that house is in a small village in a third world country, where it might be exorbitant. If you quote numbers this way, you will loserepparttar 119452 audience while they try to decide whether $125,000 is good, bad or indifferent in this context. Your statistics lose their power.

In a presentation skills workshop for a group of lawyers, one participant was practicing his delivery of an address torepparttar 119453 jury in an upcoming trial. He was asking for damages inrepparttar 119454 amount of $750,000, and hopedrepparttar 119455 jury would consider it reasonable. It’s quite a large sum, and most ordinary folks think of that kind of cash as a lottery win. He needed to put it in context for them.

He might, for example, askrepparttar 119456 jury to suppose they were thirty-five years old and earning a salary of $40,000 a year. Byrepparttar 119457 time they reachedrepparttar 119458 age of sixty-five, allowing for reasonable increases, they could expect to have earned a certain amount. (He would dorepparttar 119459 arithmetic and insertrepparttar 119460 actual sum.) That amount would be what is called their “expected lifetime income”. However, if they were involved in an accident and suddenly unable to work any more, that amount now represents their “forfeited lifetime income”. That is what happened to this claimant, andrepparttar 119461 amount he would have lost was $750,000. So in fact, counsel was asking no more thanrepparttar 119462 amountrepparttar 119463 man would have earned, had he not met with this unfortunate accident.

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