Engagement and Commitment—Essential Gateways to Innovation

by Sandy Nelson on August 22, 2011

Even though I’ve been known to write my fair share, reading articles and blogs on innovation is not among my highest priorities. Often leaning toward the academic or theoretical, so many innovation “experts” fail to speak and offer insights in ways that my now seasoned pragmatic orientation toward the subject finds compelling.

Having built a multi-decade-long career around innovation across a wide range of industries and domains of focus, I’ve come to a place where I have little patience with abstraction. This is why I was delighted to receive an email fro my colleague Chris today referring me to links to two articles by Luke Williams.

Excerpted in Fast Company from his book “Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business”. Each offers insights that can be directly translated into pragmatic action. Here is part one, and here is part two of the excerpt.

As always, reading other creative people’s thoughts about innovation brings me back to basics. With so many approaches to innovation available, a novice looking for the most effective way forward towards generating meaningful innovation could easily find herself  choosing from a menu so broad that action might easily give way to indecision as thousands of possibilities for how to start are considered.

So, let me try to make the game a bit simpler by stating the obvious—the essential gateways to innovation are engagement and commitment. People engaged in a specific area of focus and action bring awareness to process, and if they have any significant depth of commitment to producing meaningful results, will, over time, begin to notice opportunities for process and product improvement. People not engaged, interested or committed will not.

Creators and explorers at core, human beings engaged in and committed to a specific  domain of endeavor, find ways to innovate. It’s just that simple.

This is why my colleagues and I have learned over time that the most direct, impactful and cost effective way to help competitive enterprises rethink business models and processes is to mine the wisdom, creativity and engagement of those who lead, manage and operate the enterprise or team.

No doubt, there are prestigious consultancies ready and willing to flood your office with hoards of newly minted MBA’s dedicated to analyzing your market and competitors in order to tell you how to move forward toward more profitable innovation. No doubt also, that these smart people are capable of adding value.

But, before you go take that tack, just take a moment to consider what it would be like if you reached out to your people, asked them to offer their insights and solutions with safe harbor for non-starters, actually listened to what they had to say and gave the most promising a try—immediately, radically enhanced mood, depth of creative engagement and commitment, increased efficiency and palpable excitement. Just imagine what it would be like to see and benefit for the resulting increase in ownership of results, effectiveness in action and reductions in attrition and absenteeism.

And, based on our experience, you would likely be knocked off your feet at the acceleration in productivity, profitability and enterprise value appreciation.

Give it a try. Can’t hurt!

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