Why Innovation Can Be a Bad Word

I can name a lot of overused words in the private industry - "Agile", "Cloud", "Big Data".  But, "Innovation" ranks at the top of my list.  

The Webster dictionary meaning of innovation is the introduction of something new.  So why is such a simple concept so hard to implement? 

Chances are most leaders in organizations do not know the difference between innovation and everything else you do at work on a daily bases.  Even the best leaders struggle to recognize the difference and mistake slight change as true innovation.  The primary issue is majority of organizations and people try to minimize change and keep an equilibrium.  We try to achieve efficiencies through process.  

The problem is that innovation is produced through change!  

If leaders in the organization cannot embrace a culture of change, they will continue to struggle with identifying and harnessing the power of innovation. So, how do leaders in an organization develop a culture of innovation?  

You have to establish an environment where everyone in the organization can challenge the status quo.  I am not talking about having a disrupted work environment, but actually the opposite. An environment where everyone feels safe in sharing ideas to foster constructive conflict over consensus.  

Think of a Rubik’s cube.  In order to solve the puzzle, you have to work on the same problem from all six sides.  The ability of the entire organization to look at the same problem but from their point of view to solve.  Sometimes one move might take you two steps backwards.  But, that is needed in order to move forward. Once organizations and leaders embrace the culture, you can have innovation everyday!