Following the logic that there must be a shared purpose within an organisation, a good innovation leader is only as good as the sum of his or her parts. Yes, they are undoubtedly a critical piece of the business innovation puzzle, but being a great leader isn’t enough. Innovation leadership is not – and should not be – a one-man-show. This brings us to the second dimension to innovating successfully in 2020: implementing a people-first strategy.
The role of an innovation leader is to act as a catalyst of their people, of their ideas and ambitions. They must work towards harnessing the best of each individual, their unique skillsets and perspectives. This is particularly apt considering the more active character of the newer generations at work, which can be leveraged in many ways. These efforts are what help to create a pool of knowledge and skills.
This so-called ‘collective genius’ can be tapped into at any point, as long as you can ensure participation across the board.
Putting people first is at the heart of organisational change. In fact, it is the key message underlined by organisational change expert Jim Hemerling, in his TED Talk ‘5 ways to lead in an era of constant change’. Putting people first is the driving force of business transformation, he says. It makes it an invigorating (rather than exhausting) task for leaders in an era of “always-on transformation”.
People and their insights are at the core of collective intelligence, one of the most fundamental pillars of managing innovation. It involves leveraging the expertise and knowledge of the entire workforce to allow them to become effective innovators.
According to the PWC Innovation Benchmark 2017, at a time when the global focus is on technology and digital transformation, “human experience and insights of all kinds help shape and deliver new ideas, solutions, products and services that ultimately bring value to markets and businesses”.
Even going beyond an organisation’s workforce has shown to be incredibly valuable. Putting people first can mean listening to employees, but also clients. Broadening the reach to external individuals has proven business results.
In short, as a successful innovation manager, you should invest in putting people first and empower them in their jobs to innovate, instilling in everyone a sense of accountability.
FIND OUT HOW TO ENGAGE YOUNGER GENERATIONS WITH THIS PAPER: