1. How would you define innovation?
Innovation is a habit. It’s about constantly looking for new ways to create value to the organisation and / or society. Innovation is not creativity. Creativity is the idea, innovation is the execution. Growth is the output of innovation.
2. Is it important to have a culture of innovation in a business?
The key to innovation is employee engagement and culture is essential to this. You must have the right environment in place – one which is encouraging, which empowers employees and which develops their capabilities – in order to be continuously and sustainably innovative. Only by creating and managing this type of culture can you engage your people and allow them to come up with the ideas which will help differentiate you in the marketplace.
3. How do you connect innovation with leadership and strategy?
Leader’s behaviours set the cultural tone of the organisation and through the structures and process they put in place and / or fund. If they are not on-board with innovation projects, or they dismiss people’s ideas and suggestions then that culture of innovation you are trying so hard to create will fade away. This is why it’s important that the leadership team understand why innovation is essential for the business and what they will get out of it so then they can encourage, enable and empower people to be innovative and therefore make it an inevitable part of business strategy.
4. Who should drive innovation in a business?
I firmly believe innovation is everybody’s responsibility – it’s no longer the domain of the R&D or marketing departments. However, it needs to have someone driving it and that must be led by the senior team. As explained previously, they need a reason to want to innovate because it can mean challenging the status quo and often people are not comfortable with this – speaking up, taking risks and sometimes failing. So, explain the win-win, have the leaders drive it, but put the right culture in place so that all people, regardless of level, are able to offer ideas and take action.
5. What’s your one piece of advice for any business looking to release the creative energy of its people?
You wouldn’t expect someone to drive a car without learning how to do so, so how can you expect someone to innovate unless they have the right skills and tools. So, give them some training, develop their innovation capability, create an idea nurturing environment, allow them to think differently and then make it easy for them to offer up their thoughts.