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Embracing Innovation: New age approach to lead Cultural and Organizational change

As the recent surveys claim, Innovation is one of the fortitudes of a successful organization. It is conscious-driven, independent. Any employee who has studied the product and customer needs in a deeper way can embrace innovation at any point in time. 

But enabling your team think out of the box isn’t something easy, no matter which practice or model you are following. Same with Agile! By just saying we’re Agile or superficially following it doesn’t make you creative. Because lean is not a secret sausage to everything. In a company when innovation fails, people start blaming the process, tools, leaders. So, what are the actual obstacles you may face for a highly emphasized innovative culture?

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a
quip and worried to death by a frown on the right
man’s brow.” — Charles Brower

Innovation & Leadership

In my experience, innovation has a reversal tendency of bringing fortune and turning a fortune into zilch. It’s like a sword that can protect you and if misused, it can hurt you back. But today’s business competitiveness needs such risk to have exceptional growth. A company’s ability to innovate gives a constant brand recognition and enhances the value awareness among partners, customers, employees and other parties (who constantly follow your product growth)

As I have mentioned before, leaders are the most accountable personas to lead the teams through an effective innovation and adaption. Know how?

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Creating Stimulation to change

People being hesitant towards change is not a very surprising phenomenon. Everyone knows how changes can be too stressful and weighs you down by snatching the comfort zone. Which in fact, 70% of us do not like to go through.

There’s another problem I have seen. When the leaders come up with some kind of new strategy, not all of the employees are on the same pace. For a definite count, you can only add the higher rankers, who know why they are following such strategy. It happens due to lack of transparency and alignment between hierarchies.

One of the ways to bring innovation in culture is to tweak your thinking from different angles. Such as, try to put yourself on the situation of the newest employee of your organization. As an almost stranger, how does the newbie see the work culture? Does he understand the circumstances? Is he able to get proper information and training? Does he understand the values of his work? These questions can give answers for many problems. If you can understand how to influence innovation in people who know nothing of your organization, then why can’t you do it for veterans.

Defining between right and wrong

An effective leader recognizes the importance of changes and knows the right time to embrace them. Usually, this is not possible for an employee, who has not gone through such developing experiences. So, you know most of us are prone to mistakes. For example, wrong innovations or research can result in the shortage of resources without having any effective results.

Here a leader’s job is to create that safety net around people - by guiding their talent and organizational resource in a conventional way.

Power of Listening

Stephen R. Covey said “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply”.

Most of us have a tendency to satisfy our own logics, especially when you lead others, this is something happens because of mindless ego -- in other words the self-righteousness thinking. But a true leader knows how to discard these. Always remember, if you are in a crowd, you will find something to learn every time. Knowledge has a basic rule “Share and grow”. The more you share, the more you listen, the more you learn. 

“The one, who is stagnant like a stagnant water can never know the joy of ever flowing wind.”

Vision tells the real Story

I have talked about vision in my blogs countless times, but still not enough. Because every doing is an illusion if you don’t have the reason for the action. What is that you want to chase? What is that you dream of? Why do you work hard? Why do you experiment so much? All these comes with one answer “Because I want to achieve something.”

The fire of Vision makes people think, develop strategy and adapt it. The future's something not in our hand and the present is all we have. But always looking at the current scenario and getting flattered is not the doing of a wise man. The things you have today may not be there in tomorrow. So, a leader needs to keep the greater goal (vision) in mind and lead others according to that Shared Vision.

The Misconceptions

Most companies assume, only the geniuses bring brainstormings. If they fail, then it's the E N D of innovation. Let me tell you frankly, it’s not. Innovation is independent of people’s personal achievements. It's all about a person's resolved commitment. Leaders influence others to innovate but the mind that works behind is the creator of that innovation.

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is the play that stimulates creativity.” – Linda Naiman

In any organization, innovation to blend with the culture needs the heart of leaders, the passion of employees and unity of the organization beneath the umbrella of one Compelling Shared Vision.

The Strategy for Innovation in Agile

In Agile, we have an IP(Innovation & Planning) iteration - an opportunity to do innovation and exploration. The educational time is used to plan for next PI, process the backlogs and integration of the system. The team members finish the remaining work of the past PI in this iteration (they can choose whichever work and with whomever, they want to). The POs, Scrum masters plan (meeting the PI objectives, strengthening the predictability of product release ) for the upcoming future.

P.S.  Innovation doesn’t just happen like that. To understand the process of innovation, you have to understand the points of your product development that need time for innovation. The practices of Agile can make you crawl around the small, small points and the innovation experiment visible. Let me ask again, is innovation really that difficult? do your organization ready for this? Come to us, Don't go for the rumors, scattered around the market. Do what you must do and do it well!! :-))

References: http://www.scaledagileframework.com/innovation-and-planning-iteration/

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/leadership-and-innovation


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