Getting started

It seems that everyone is talking about innovation these days.  If you found your way here, chances are you or someone in your organization is either asking questions about innovation or has decided “we need to be more innovative.”

Despite all the attention it receives, innovation is not a bad thing.  In fact, providing new value for stakeholders is critical for most of us.  The challenge is that the idea of innovation is often misrepresented or at least misunderstood.

You can’t simply declare one day that your organization will be more innovative. It’s not like installing a water cooler – plug it in and pour water.  Innovation requires people to be flexible, to work together in different ways, to let go of old habits, programs or activities, to trust. These are all part of an environment that supports innovation.

So, how do you get started?  First, you need to know what you/your organization want to accomplish.  Without a vision identifying where you want to go or what you want to be, any idea can look interesting, but it might not advance your efforts.

An innovation vision should provide a sense of aspiration.  It should challenge you to think and imagine how to achieve the desired state.  A vision provides staff a common focus point that can help them to understand why you are taking on innovation, and inspire them to seek ways that they can contribute to the effort.

Here are a few questions to consider as you develop your innovation vision:

  • What does innovation mean to us?
  • Why do we want to be more innovative?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • What are our unexplored opportunities?
  • What story do we want told about our organization in ten years?
  • What’s not being said?

You wouldn’t create a new program without a vision or goal of what you want to achieve, and you shouldn’t initiate an innovation effort without one either.

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