The Importance of Innovation

Innovation requires bottom-line inspiration, completely understanding the scope of your industry and the skills of your team. Innovative leaders are master delegators. They are able to hone the skills and abilities of each team member, blend highly productive workgroups, fully utilize all available resources (including those within their team members), and inspire each group to stay ahead of industry trends.

Staying ahead of the pack requires a willingness to entertain ideas, take calculated risks, and allow the freedom to fail. Constant SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) helps to provide a deep understanding of why something failed, what was good/bad, and what could be better. These types of analysis allows the ability to answer the necessary, “What if?”, questions that inspire strategic thinking.

Performing on a worldwide stage at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City Dick Fosbury revolutionized the sport of high jump when he performed an incredible risk, jumping head first. His technique became known as “The Fosbury Flop”. This level of innovation took his jump to 2.24 meters, higher than any other attempt.

Streamlining communication helps harbor innovation in workgroups. Teams and departments need to have the opportunity to communicate frequently for innovation to thrive. The days of tall organizational structures are gone. In my personal opinion, it’s because we live in a fast world where our attention span averages less than 10 second. Because of our demand for frequent change and the new, we’ve had to flatten structures, streamline processes, and increase the importance of time and efficiency. Flatter structures allow for teams, partners, and departments to collaborate seamlessly.

This seamlessness is best demonstrated when a hockey team performs an on-the-fly line change. Typically, when the puck is sent to the other end of the rink, teams have an opportunity to change out players without stopping the momentum of the game.

This video of the Gwinnett Gladiators Head Coach, Jeff Pyle, explaining a line-change is a great example. Note how he puts and emphasis on streamlining communication. He also recognizes the scope of his players’ abilities, and then places a time boundary to ensure the tempo of the game is not delayed. At 01:22 Coach Pyle emphasizes, again, on the importance of communication, and how the lack of effective communication could result in a penalty.

Leaders of workgroups should strive to create a strong collaborative momentum. Taking a lesson from something like a line-change in hockey, or a high jump technique, proves that innovation is everywhere. It is up to us as leaders within our workgroups to take advantage of the benefits offered through innovating.

Being innovative is not just about bringing new ideas to processes, procedures and/or products. Being innovative is also about utilizing the people within your team the their full potential. By putting certain people in the right place, you’re taking advantage of a potential opportunity to develop team members. Great leaders stand out when they are leading other leaders.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” — Ronald Reagan

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”  — John C. Maxwell

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