I recently read Dianna Vitasovic's article, "Leadership Support Mechanisms for Breakthrough Innovation." She reports that the following 7 themes emerged:
- Enable a shared understanding of Breakthrough Innovation
- Leadership Enables Breakthrough Innovation
- Set Organizational Context and Prioritize Resources
- Provide Time
- Stimulate Network and Share Information
- Create and Innovative Culture
- Technological Flexible Systems, Expertise & Knowledge Sharing
When I think about this and how I lead innovation, the following things emerge for me:
Mission: I think leadership should tell everyone what leadership wants. Complete this sentence, "I need ideas for..." When asking for ideas, leaders should give areas of exploration, constraints, requirements, and exclusions.
Resources (both time and money): When someone has ideas that match what the leader wants, the leadership needs to enable that person with tools and invest in the idea to learn more.
Collaboration & Stimulus: Stimulus sparks ideas. You can use collaboration to find trends and technologies, and then share within your organization.
Culture: Shipping breakthrough ideas will lead to an innovation culture. Culture can be changed by making innovation education and participation available to everyone who wants to innovate. Rapid research and an ability for safe failures also fits into an innovation culture.
Flexible Systems: The current system used to develop your non-breakthrough innovations isn't going to work for the breakthrough innovations. As a leader, consider making exceptions to your current rules or processes of the system. Allow project leaders to consult experts inside and outside your organization.
What do YOU perceive as the key leadership support mechanisms necessary to facilitate sustainable breakthrough innovation at your company?