Jul 11, 2010

How To Be An Innovative Leader

Forbes.com had an article with three pointer towards how to drive innovation (How To Be An Innovative, Not Just Business, Leader):
  1. Reframe the challenge. 
  2. Focus on the customer experience.
  3. Practice rapid prototyping. 
Of the three, I find the first one of most interest.  We often forget to ask about the challenge itself and that in itself limits the possible solutions we come up with:
Innovative thinking can be used to redefine, or reframe, a problem. This is not a cosmetic or semantic change; it is a process of reexamining the situation. ... By reframing problems, you uncover new places to innovate, or new angles to take. To reframe your challenge, ask powerful questions, challenge assumptions and bring in multiple perspectives. ... He reframed the challenge away from fixing a past problem and toward differentiating the product and the company for the future. That was a vision that could focus and motivate the whole team. 
Here are a few more tips from another article in Forbes - Innovator's Nirvana:
--Get strength at the top. "You can change business models," said Miller, "but changing culture requires leadership."
--Watch timing. The change may be great, but are all the support systems there? Remember what you innovate has to exist in an ecosystem to thrive.
--Communicate discovery for open innovation. The discoveries of Alcatel-Lucent's scientists frequently end up in products far from their respective specialties.
--When ideas just keep failing despite tweaks to the prototype, have the guts to admit you were wrong. Just because it's different, that doesn't mean it was right. That judgment is more important. Plus admitting that and going on to try other new things can actually make you braver

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