Innovation: Three Secrets Everyone Misses

innovationInnovation is a hot topic among business leaders. There are dozens of companies advising on innovation and countless books on ways to innovate.

If you’re serious about innovating your company to prepare for future opportunities and growth, you’ve probably had discussions with your executive leadership about change management and visioning.

In a recent Inc.com post, Lauren Leader-Chivée, founding partner at Hewlett Chivée LLC, discusses three drivers of innovation many businesses overlook.

Diversity

Companies large and small struggle to find the right fit when hiring.

When building a workforce, business leaders want to bring on team members who reflect the values of the organization, understand (and can thrive in) the company culture, and “fit” into the organization’s structure.

Leader-Chivée argues many organizations miss out on diversity by being too focused on fit.

While diversity can mean different things to different people, “just a diversity of thought or personal styles isn’t enough. Hiring someone from another culture, gender, or generation makes a big difference in innovation potential. That’s because the unique life experience that someone diverse brings leads him or her to understand the world and customers differently.”

She challenges business leaders to focus on diversity in the next hiring round, and make sure they aren’t ignoring critical perspectives in pursuit of “fit”.

Open Leadership

According to Leader-Chivée, leaders with decades of experience are often leading with outdated perspectives and skill sets.

In order for innovation to thrive in any organization, business leaders need to embrace an open leadership style that encourages creative thinking and entrepreneurial risk from all its employees.

“As long as the command and control leaders are getting the promotions, the more inclusive leaders — the ones who actually know how to foster innovative teams — will not rise.”

Leaders who embrace a more open, inclusive style of leadership trust their teams to innovate, and know how to get out of their own way.

Listening

The most innovative companies listen carefully to their customers. The views of key and vocal customers are a significant driver of innovation, but “many larger, more hierarchical companies are simply not set up to hear the voice of the consumer.”

Leader-Chivée challenges business leaders to listen closely to customers and employees when looking for opportunities to innovate and shake up the status quo.

While focus groups and market research are important to product and service development, the best customer insights can come from your frontline employees, those who speak with customers every day and hear their observations and complaints.

Innovation isn’t easy, but if you focus on these three things, your organization might just reap the benefits.

Are you missing opportunities to innovate in your organization?

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