Innovation is a necessity today, no matter what business you are in. It does not necessarily mean you have to come up with a breakthrough every week, but it certainly requires you to constantly push yourself towards finding new ways of getting old things done. Marco Tortoriello, associate professor of strategic management at IESE Business School, offers five tips to help you get there.
1. Surround yourself with the right talent
An innovative leader is one who is able to surround themselves with the “right” set of people, to listen to them, and reconcile the different perspectives they provide into something novel. By “right set of people”, in fact, I mean individuals who are able to bring to the table a wealth of diverse and non-overlapping perspectives. Effective leaders should leverage the richness of these views and integrate knowledge.
2. Be open to diversity
To cultivate a workplace environment of continuous improvement, innovation and initiative, you have to have an openness to diversity. This is single-handedly the most important feature of any innovative environment. That means looking for challenges instead of corroboration, tolerance for diverging views, fierce ex-ante debate, but strong unified action once agreement is reached.
3. Embrace change
Fostering a culture of innovation is a challenge against a backdrop of economic uncertainty. The most common reaction of organisations in the face of uncertainty is to freeze and keep doing what they are doing. It is understandable, but is it a viable solution? To keep doing things the old way might lock you up, impeding your ability to get ready to change. Innovation requires you to embrace the challenges of change, even when uncertainty makes it hard(er) for you to do that.
4. Listen, listen, listen
This empowers collaborators, and helps to create a culture of openness.
5. Walk your talk
It is all too often that leaders offer a certain narrative to their people while their behaviours (observable ones) point drastically in the opposite direction. It is nonsense rambling about the importance of long-term goals when you then grill your people if they don’t meet the quarterly numbers.
Associate professor of strategic management, IESE Business School.