Burst of Innovation – Unlocking the “I” in Innovation

key through maze

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

Why does this matter? When you aren’t engaged, you don’t do your best within the process or system. You may choose to put in the minimum amount of effort necessary to get by because most, or none, of this works for you. What you’ve most likely fallen into is initiative fatigue.

How Initiative Fatigue Affects Innovation

In a world full of processes, systems and initiatives, it can be exhausting just trying to get by, particularly if you don’t feel like these processes and systems work for you. And, when you’ve been thrown into a new innovation effort, initiative fatigue can be a real creativity killer.

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

This happens far more often in organizations than we would like to think. People often 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

Most of the time, we overlook 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. The human side of innovation, once tapped into, allows us to ignite, scale, and engage innovation.

When you understand how you innovate, you’ll begin to see what you’re capable of and how you fit into the innovation process. You’ll become engaged in the process and leverage your strengths. You’ll tap into your unique, most powerful self to drive innovation. And when your whole team does the same thing, interesting and innovative ideas spring up all over the place.

So, how do you know how you innovate? First off, you must understand that  being innovative is universal.  Everyone does it. However, how each one of us innovates is unique to each of us.  All you have to do is figure out what your innovation style is, and start flexing your unique innovation strengths. There are nine styles of innovation or ways that you might innovate. You have a unique combination of those styles that defines our innovation style. [Curious to find out how you innovate? Take the free assessment!]

How to Create an Innovation Initiative that Works

For starters, instead of thinking, “How do we create an innovation initiative or process?” start thinking, “How can we tap the human innovation that’s around us? And, how can we do that with the people 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 there must be diversity in cognitive thinking. Diversity in how people innovate and approach critical problem solving helps build high-performing teams. That diversity comes from 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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