A leader’s failure to walk the talk is, arguably, especially conspicuous if that leader fails to make good on his or her talk about innovation. The promise to focus on innovation ends right there, with a promise. The inability or unwillingness to follow through on the promise creates what is called an Innovation Gap.
Leaders can close the innovation gap by working simultaneously on four essential organizational enablers:
- Leading Innovation
If leaders are committed to innovation, they must give leaders and managers at every level the skills to manage innovation teams and they must develop everyone’s innovative thinking skills.
- Culture of Innovation
Cultures define an organization’s “implicit” rules, what individuals and teams do and say when no one is watching. If the culture supports innovative behaviours, innovation can occur systematically. However, if some of the elements of the culture, such as decision-making or risk tolerance, are not supportive, innovation will never happen systematically.
- Organizational Practices for Innovation
In most situations, organizational practices are the result of cumulative decisions taken by many leaders over many years. In the industrial economy, organizations developed practices to maximize the efficiency of work and its output. These practices led to an efficient standardization of work but also contributed to rigid processes to achieve consistency.Organizations need to develop practices that make it easier to innovate. In most cases it simply requires an adjustment to specific processes or rules. The real issue is that every department or function is affected, and just one reluctant department can jeopardize innovation in the whole organization.
- The Innovation Plan
There are six guiding principles to follow when developing an innovation plan. These principles ensure that the plan is solid, sustainable, and will achieve the objectives:
- Focus on clear business objectives
- Engage the whole executive team
- Top-down but open to bottom-up input
- Include clear boundaries
- Resource and enforce the plan
- Include metrics to track progress