INNOVATION is the successful implementation of new ideas – it allows us to unfold our vision into reality.
It is a force each of us has inside, as well as a phenomenon which occurs as a result of human interaction. It is a culture, not the skill of a few rare people. Yet, not all of us arrive at innovative solutions in the same way. Some of us are quintessential inventors while others are slow to generate new ideas. Sustainable INNOVATION therefore needs collaboration between the creativity of the brilliant inventors and the keepers of the current reality.
Leading with FUTURE POSSIBILITIES and engaging relevant stakeholders are essential to starting a change process. Without innovation we might limit ourselves to familiar variations of existing solutions. Innovation, in contrast, invites us to move beyond the known, most certainly beyond our comfort zone, and the comfortable sphere of the involved stakeholder.
Sustainability requires INNOVATION on a large scale – we cannot walk into the future when our minds focused on present problems. The challenges ahead cannot be addressed by singular solutions, territorial claims and individual intelligence alone. We need to act and drive innovation in a context of understanding the world as an interconnected system and understanding humankind as a web of relationships. With societal needs in mind, uncounted avenues for innovation are opening for companies, public sector and civil society who think several steps ahead. At the same time we need to recognize that many have a resistance towards INNOVATION. As a result, brilliant new ideas are strongly resisted before they are eventually adopted as natural and self-evident. Therefore, in order to meet sustainability’s urgent need for more innovative solution, we need to be aware of this resistance and how to consciously cultivate innovation despite it.
For example, we can enhance our competence for INNOVATION when we reach deeply into our own consciousness and open ourselves to collaboration with other minds. People who run leadership retreats know this phenomenon. Otto Scharmer’s Theory U process can take a group of people to the bottom of the U – a place, where mind and heart open and where new ideas can emerge collectively. When we want to establish a culture for innovation, within us, in our teams, in our organization and across institutions – we more easily spot innovative solutions if we allow ourselves to meet people as people, and let stories emerge that we did not expect to hear. Bettina von Stamm, an expert engaged in helping companies develop their innovation potential remarked in a personal conversation: “Because we look at things from very different perspective, miscommunication and misunderstanding happen. But exactly this is the key to progress. If we see the humanness of another person, if we acknowledge without agreeing – we can overcome differences and finally see that all perspectives had a contribution to make.”
This blog post looks at the dimension of INNOVATION in the Collective Leadership Compass . For more information on the Art of Leading Collectively, checkout the inside the book and reviews on amazon.com, or get inspired by an onsite course that takes the compass into the daily challenges of navigating complex change.