Goals for this section Our goal this section – Examine and discuss the key criteria for successful innovation leaders – Understand how to build those skills
Key Points Innovation requires, more than any other initiative, clear leadership – The culture, risks and uncertainties will stifle or block innovation Innovation leaders are like everyone else, only more so – Strong leaders have most of the skills – Shift from execution to exploration
Six key attributes We’ve found that strong innovation leaders at any level have these attributes – Vision – Commitment – Fearlessness – Comfort with ambiguity – Desire for change – Communication
Vision When we speak of vision we mean the ability to identify opportunities before other individuals or groups do These opportunities are in line with university strategies and capabilities Vision extends beyond the horizon in existing markets and segments, and to new markets and segments as well
What influences vision Ability to look beyond the day to day aspects of the “day job” Getting information and insights outside of the typical channels Interacting with a wide range of individuals on a regular basis Having a “future market orientation”
Gaining Vision Obtain clarity around Pacific’s strategy and department strategy and goals Identify opportunities and goals 3 to 5 years out Examine trends, customer insights and emerging opportunities Stay vigilant, looking for the next new opportunity Requires spending time looking “over the horizon” on a regular basis
Commitment Innovation leaders are committed to their vision and understand how to accomplish these difficult tasks They understand that they may “swim upstream” but stick with their innovation insights and goals when the culture works against them
Gaining commitment You need the ability to “sell” your vision to your management team and to your co- workers Demonstrate your own commitment to the success of the innovation. What time and resources are you committing? You’ll need to demonstrate your commitment to the effort in the face of existing culture
A winner who constantly failed What would you call a guy who failed to get a hit almost 60% of the time?
Fearless Innovation leaders make mistakes but don’t live in fear of the consequences They follow the logic of the ideas even when that means impacting an existing business They understand that the failure of one idea does not dictate the success or failure of the innovation process
Becoming “fearless” It’s a mindset. The difference between the Army and the Marines? – What’s not forbidden is permitted – What’s not permitted is forbidden Demonstrate that some failures lead to new insights and successes Live another day – demonstrate that one failure doesn’t end the innovation program
Comfort with ambiguity Much of the work in an innovation initiative or program is not clearly defined – Often there are many tradeoffs – The working processes aren’t defined – The outcomes or goals are unclear Individuals who can work within these concepts – in an ambiguous environment – and succeed make great innovation leaders
Working in the gray areas There’s simply no easy way to make everything related to innovation as “black and white” as people prefer There’s too much change and too much risk and too little history or experience Innovation leaders have a much greater tolerance for working in ambiguity
Creating discomfort Additionally, as an innovation leader you may need to make people “uncomfortable” – to get them out of their comfort zone to think in new ways It’s too easy to fall back on existing perspectives and frameworks. As a leader you may need to move people into the gray areas for innovation to happen.
Constant Change The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. — Isaac Asimov
Desire for change Innovation requires finding the new need and translating that need into new services or business models Innovators have to constantly change, constantly discover new trends and new opportunities Innovators must be constantly dissatisfied with the status quo
Communication Innovators have to communicate their goals and expectations clearly and consistently to bring others aboard This work can’t be done in isolation and others must be able to understand the work, the expectations and potential outcomes in order to participate effectively.
Improving communication Innovation often requires more communication than you might expect, due to – New methods and processes – New goals – Increased risks and uncertainties You can fail to undercommunicate, but it will be difficult to overcommunicate
What other resources can you tap? Probably the most important resource is human resources / talent management – They determine how people are compensated – They work with the business units or business functions to determine how people are evaluated – They have access to training programs – They can schedule programs like “lunch and learn” to bring innovators together across the organization
Grooming others As an innovation leader, you are aware of others who have similar skills and traits Begin to recruit them and provide them with training and opportunities to use innovation tools and techniques Build an expectation that innovation is a core skill set and train your team accordingly
Walk the Talk As an innovation leader, it’s important that you are actively participating in innovation programs and use innovation tools and techniques consistently Seek to use the tools and techniques we’ve described in every project, every initiative Highlight opportunities for innovation – brainstorms, idea campaigns, great new ideas Seek opportunities for innovation
Key Takeaways Innovation leadership requires all the skills of good leadership in your organization, plus – Excellent communication skills – The ability to take risks, fail and recover – The ability to challenge existing structures, channels and closely held assumptions – A strong, compelling vision of what “could be”