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Innovative leaders can at times be considered picky, irrational, a perfectionist that’s never satisfied and always thinking of the next best thing ever invented! But, their innovations produce new products, new services and new experiences that cause everyone to ultimately win.
Imagine for a moment a hotel that has been struggling with the issue of loss in their alcohol inventory after each banqueting event. For years the problem persisted with no viable solution. Then, they take a risk on a fresh university graduate, still wet-behind-the-ears from internships and on-the-job experience coordinating more than 360 destination weddings at a leading resort. She’s only 21 years old, but precocious and confident. They hire her after she confirms that she is ready to go from being called “Laurel,” to being known as “Ms. Mitchell,” supervising her own staff. Her innovation in devising a system to accurately account for the alcoholic beverages resulted in her former supervisor reporting to her family that her methods were still being used long after her death.
Imagine another young and restless innovator excited about computers and graphics, but bored with formal schooling. Forced to drop out, he was faced with the problem of what to do with his life. After working with Atari computers for a while and several other events, Steve Jobs eventually founded Apple computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976. He is still widely celebrated for his innovations in the iPhone and the Apple iPad. But, Jobs also saw the potential of computer graphics in producing films. So, he invested $50 million of his own money into Pixar Animation Studios in 1986. Some notable successes include: Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. On record, Pixar’s films have collectively netted more than $4 billion. In 2006, they were so successful they merged with the pioneering Walt Disney Studios (Bio, 2019; https://www.biography.com/business-figure/steve-jobs).
Every innovation is suited for its space and time. Innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new or a new idea, method, or device (Merriam-Webster, 2019; https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innovation). As a result of its novelty to others it often attracts a lot of attention, garnering praise and criticism in equal measure.
Want proof of how innovations have significantly impacted your life from fire and electricity to antibiotics and cellular technology, innovations keep society growing. Watch the video below for some eye-raising innovations:
According to research by Joanna Barsh, Marla M. Capozzi, and Jonathan Davidson (2008), more than 70 percent of the senior executives surveyed reported that innovation will be at least one of the top three drivers of growth for their companies.” Another survey of 600 global business executives, managers, and professionals, found that leadership was the best predictor of innovation performance (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/leadership-and-innovation).
If you want to be innovative, you have to be deliberate about it and make it a priority. We would be wise to remember the old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and I dare to say, of innovation in 2019. Set innovation targets and develop innovation networks as people with different kinds of knowledge and ways of tackling problems cross-fertilize ideas.
The four critical steps in designing, implementing, and managing an innovation network are presented below:
Want to know more about the power of innovation? Consider how my monthly visits to high schools and repeated questions from teens turned into two books: Dear Little Sister and Dear Little Brother. Check them out at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfPWaPCJ0vE .