Who else is a little weary of hearing about the importance of innovation? It seems to be used interchangeably with every changing tide and 2020 is no exception. In fact, organisations feel the impetus to innovate now more than ever before.
But what drives innovation?
People do…and where people are involved, other factors must be considered in order to lay a rock-solid foundation upon which TRUE innovation can happen.
Additionally, the skills needed to steer the process towards impactful innovation, are largely soft – working cross-sectionally with other teams, successfully dealing with clients, negotiating change in complex projects, anticipating risk and managing conflict, to name a few. All while keeping teams encouraged and thriving amidst challenging external forces.
How do you drive innovation with soft skills?
In order to feel empowered to take risks, albeit calculated risks, and managing uncertainty there needs to be a focus on honing the softer skills which invariably create psychological safety for your employees. Think about it, an environment of judgement, fear of failure, mistrust and gossip are surefire ways to destroy the fabric needed for lasting innovation to occur.
Here’s how you can help your teams to focus on building greater psychological safety and nurture an innovation-culture:
- Be trusting: always give your people the benefit of the doubt, especially in a public setting. Back your team members at all times, encourage vulnerability and praise accountability – we all make mistakes, it’s in the handling of the mistakes which really counts. Admit when you don’t know something, it helps others to feel safe enough to learn and grow too.
- Know yourself: consider how strongly you hold onto the status quo, especially your own belief systems around work-related matters. How do you respond to new ideas, possibilities, brainstorming, etc? Are you open to adjusting your mindset to be welcoming of idea generation? It’s in the ‘openness’ that we tend to find the golden nuggets that may just be the best idea an organisation needs. Sticking to the status quo is the biggest element of inertia in turning the flywheel of innovation in an organisation. Thus, there has to be an active commitment of all senior staff members to move beyond the ‘current way of how you do things’.
- Listen: when people really feel seen and heard as individuals, they’re naturally more trusting and trust fosters innovation because we feel more comfortable to fail and learn from the failure. By listening to what people say and don’t say, you’re able to understand them better and motivate them more meaningfully to unleash their potential.
- Celebrate innovation: and attempts at innovation. When an employee shares a mistake or a failure, ask “what have we learned?” Consider regular project debriefs and retros to really unpack and unravel why something didn’t pan out the way it was intended to.
- Say what you want: if you want more innovation, ask for it. Give people the opportunities to innovate and the parameters within which they can take risks.
- Be curious: ask questions, understand and unearth, challenge assumptions and uncover organizational blind spots.
- Coach and mentor people: coaching empowers people to find their own solutions and this creates resourcefulness in them which can unearth new ideas – more ideas mean a greater possibility for solutions.
- Build courage: courage is the ability to continue despite the challenges and difficulties. Innovation requires courage as it’s often dangerous to try new things. Courage and vulnerability go hand-in-hand.
Summit are specialists in unlocking the power of innovation within a myriad organisations. Chat to us today and see whether we can help your team find their sweet spot of innovation.