Burst of Innovation - Unlocking the “I” in Innovation

On any given day in work and life, how many processes do you have to follow, systems do you have to access, and initiatives are you a part of? If you’re like most of us, it probably numbers in the hundreds. But here’s the question: how many of those processes, systems, initiatives are you truly engaged in and excited about? The reality is probably not very many, perhaps even none!

Why does this matter? When people aren’t engaged, they don’t do their best within the process or system. They choose to put in the minimum amount of effort necessary to get by because it is not something that works for them. What this results in is initiative fatigue.

How Initiative Fatigue Affects Innovation

In a world full of processes, systems and initiatives that we’re expected to keep up with, it can be exhausting just trying to get by - particularly if we don’t feel like these processes and systems work for us. Especially when it comes to innovation efforts, initiative fatigue can be a real creativity-killer.

Picture this: Your organization has the latest-and-greatest innovation system that’s all the rage, that’s supposed to help you ideate, but for some reason, it just doesn’t work. It’s a one-size-fits-all process, yet somehow, it doesn't fit you. You feel out of sorts, like a square peg in a round hole, and this makes you feel like you’re not innovative.

This happens far more often in organizations than we would like to think, and I know this from experience. The outcome is often that people start to feel exhausted and fatigued within this system. They tune out, disengage and simply don’t buy into the process, which in turn stunts innovation efforts and stops it in its tracks.

What has gone wrong? Why have our best efforts at implementing an innovation process or system failed?

The Individual in Innovation

The truth is, most of the time, we are overlooking the most important part of innovation. The most important part of bringing innovation to life and making it real and tangible isn't the process, the system, or the initiative. 

It's the people. It's the “I” in innovation. It’s the Individual. This is the human side of innovation, and that's how we ignite, scale, and engage innovation.

How do we as humans innovate? Being innovative is universal, we all do it. However, how we innovate is unique to each of us. There are nine styles of innovation or ways that we innovate, and we each have a unique combination that defines our innovation style. [Curious to find out how you innovate? Take the free assessment!]

If we clearly understand how each of us innovates, we then see what we're capable of and how we fit into the innovation process. We become engaged in the process, and we can leverage our strengths and tap into our unique, most powerful self to drive innovation.

How to Create an Innovation Initiative that Works

As we move forward, instead of thinking, "How do we create an innovation initiative or process?”, start thinking about, "How can we tap the human innovation that's already around us, and the people that we work with on a daily basis?". Focusing on human-centered innovation is how you create innovation that actually scales and can be sustained. 

The beauty of understanding human potential, how we as humans innovate, and the differences between us, is that we can leverage each of our strengths and the diversity of thinking we each bring to the table.

Research has found that in order to create truly high-performing teams that get better outcomes and results, it isn’t just the superficial diversity of different cultures and ages that matters. What’s critical is diversity in cognitive thinking. Diversity in how people innovate and approach critical problem solving is what helps build high-performing teams. And it has to do with tapping into each of our individual strengths, and adopting a human-centered approach to innovation.

The fact is, with innovation, starting with the process or the initiative and trying to work backwards to implement it doesn’t work. We've got to put the “I” back in innovation. Lucky for us, it's inside all of us, so we just have to unlock the innovation inside of us. 

So the next time you're in a leadership meeting talking about innovation and initiatives, I hope you'll be the one to step up and say, "Hey, let’s take a human-centered approach to innovation and build a culture of innovation that works for everybody.”

Watch the video to learn how to unlock the "I" in innovation.

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