The leader is involved from fertilization through to the ongoing environment needed to sustain innovation. The leader sets the tone, ensures that people are aware of the strategic importance of innovation and makes it part of the focus of the organization.
Surveys of business leaders show that the majority of time is spent on forecasts, processes and problem solving than planning and promoting innovation. Less that 10% have innovation as an item on the Board’s agenda and only 12% mention it in briefings or have it as part of the vision or values of the organization.
If the leaders at the top are not committed to, and demonstrating their commitment to, innovation in the organization, then it will not be taken seriously. What ever is important at the top is what is focused on at the lower levels. People will not focus on things that are not going to be recognized by the boss! The surprising thing is; for many businesses, if innovation was high on the agenda, it would assist sales, reduce costs and create opportunities.
The leaders have the responsibility to set innovation as being an important aspect of the business strategy. To do this the following need to be considered:
- Personal and collective commitment to innovation from the CEO and Board
- Commitment to innovation evident in business plan, strategy, vision or values
- Review of innovation progress at meetings
- Communication of the above down the organization
- Managers and Leaders at all levels understand the emphasis and are expected to report on progress on innovation