Innovation has been the driving force of our economy since WWII. Executives in every boardroom have heard the requirement to be “more innovative”. Many organizations have even put the word “innovation” on their wall, hoping the physical representation of the word will motivate employees in the right direction.
It is true that innovation is how organizations create a radically different future and avoid being consumed by the rapidly changing word. I’m not arguing about the benefits of innovation. I only have one question whenever innovation comes up in a conversation with an executive.
How do you know you’re making innovative decisions?
It doesn’t matter how many weekend retreats, workshops and brainstorming sessions you have around innovation. Reality happens in the decisions being made by your team. That’s where you can or cannot find innovation. If your team is making decisions based out of fear or by minimizing risk, they are not making innovative decisions.
Don’t look at the wall with nice engraving. Look at the decisions being made around you.
There are nine questions in the assessment. For each question, rate your team or organization on a scale of one to five, with one being never, two being rarely, three being sometimes, four being frequently and five being always.
The questions are as follows.
- We check a consistent list of broad categories where innovation can happen
- We start with the end in mind and work backwards, letting go present day constraints
- We track the speed of our decisions and work to improve it whenever relevant
- We have a process that encourages ideas from anywhere in the organization
- We have a decision-making process that minimizes bias and politics
- We encourage healthy debate of ideas regardless of role or status
- We provide sufficient support and resources to allow ideas to flourish
- We review successes for future process improvements while ignoring failures
- We reward the behaviors that lead to innovation and not just the end result
The total potential score is 45 and here are some guidelines for understanding your rating.
30 – 45 = you are a consistently making innovative decisions
15 – 29 = you are attempting to innovate but there’s several factors that need to be improved
0 – 14 = you’re not spending enough time or resources thinking about innovation
Peter Drucker viewed innovation as a new way to view the universe. He envisioned a world where humans were no longer limited to scarce resources. Instead, they could literally create the future regardless of perceived limitations.
Organizations don’t need superhuman efforts to be innovative. They need to make different decisions to get different outcomes.
As you finish reading this article, think of the decisions your team will make in the next few days. Are they innovative?