Ninety L&D Circle – Defining innovation to drive engagement
Earlier in the year, one of our Training Specialists, Emily Gardner, posted on LinkedIn about bringing a group of innovators together to talk about the importance of innovation training/culture. It received a good number of responses, so we proceeded to make it an L&D Circle discussion in early May. In this conversation, we discussed questions such as…
- Why should we bother defining innovation?
- What matters in a definition?
- What makes up an innovative culture?
- Once you have a vision for innovation, what is the best way to make it tangible to everyone?
In this blog, we wanted to summarise a few key takeaways from our latest session.
Why should we bother defining innovation?
One of the participants likened innovation to the way Elvin Turner describes it in his bestseller ‘Be Less Zombie’. In the book, Turner describes organizations that don’t change as “Zombies” and suggests all organizations that want to grow, should divert their focus to innovation.
Following this, another participant shared their experience of the innovation process in a big organization. They expressed that people often get swept away and picture innovation as “the crazy out-of-the-box stuff”, until they look back at what they came up with and realize that it’s not relevant or realistically applicable going forward. This is why it’s vital to define innovation in the first place so that as a company, you can have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
From a Ninety perspective, our Innovation Engagement Lead Nick Reed believes that it’s very important on our side too, as our clients need us to have a clear definition of innovation, so that we can give them the best and most relevant information possible and help shape their innovation portfolio and capabilities.
What matters in a definition?
The key thing that we landed on as a group was clarity. Often, an organization can be so big that the definition of innovation gets diluted, as it passes through all of the departments and levels of authority. So it’s important to have a clear definition of innovation, otherwise, what one person may be calling innovation, may be completely different from what another department thinks innovation is and in large organizations, this could even lead to miscommunication. At worst, employees might get the impression that innovation is ‘not for them.’
What makes up an innovative culture?
One participant explained an Innovative culture as “a culture where innovation is inevitable and it’s an absolute must”. Another broke it down by its key components:
- Behaviors – When the employees exhibit innovative thinking in whatever they do.
- Leadership – The people with authority must always keep in mind innovation in their decision-making.
- Part of the day job – It has to be a normal way of thinking, almost intertwined into their day-to-day processes.
Once you have a vision for innovation, what is the best way to make it tangible to everyone?
One participant mentioned that they took part in an internal innovation initiative intended to be a different way of internally crowd-sourcing ideas, and it was going well with a stream of ideas flowing, however, the ideas didn’t actually go ahead and there was no action put behind them.
As a company, it has to be made clear that all ideas are listened to and the successful ideas have action behind them. One participant suggested that the way to make it tangible would be promoting stories about where innovation has worked to make it become part of the narrative.
We hope that you have found our key discussion areas helpful. Sign up for our newest webinar here.