Henry Doss has recently published an article on Forbes entitled: “Innovation: Leadership is always the key”. He rightly says that if an organization is struggling with innovation it might be focusing on systems and processes rather than on the development and nurturing of powerful individual leaders.
Whereas I certainly agree that (mindful) leadership is a very important factor when creating and fostering a culture of innovation, I also believe that communication, especially internal communications and intercultural communications are key ingredients that cannot be missed out.
Why? Imagine how many different teams in diverse functions such as marketing, sales, research&development etc. have to work together to predict trends and think about new products/services that could succeed in their specific market(s). These cross-functional teams will have to spend a great deal of their time in internal meetings and reviews until an idea gets through the funnel and is tested in the end. Without effective internal communications orienting the discussions towards the right direction as well as motivating/rewarding feedback loops, all processes will be tedious, even if the involved people are brilliant on their own. Their collective intelligence is what we have to look for and further rather than the individual performance; in that sense, putting the right internal communication tools in place and giving the right feedback at the right time are the most important pieces in the innovation process. Ideas can then be refined, improved and prioritized in a highly efficient manner without loosing the creativity and motivation of the teams in the meantime.
Likewise, if the various team members are lacking intercultural communication skills, they will not only fail to identify how a specific customer need could be successfully met in their identified target market; they will also fail to communicate the creative input or idea to the respective teams and functions which very often are globally spread out and staffed with people from around the world. An idea also needs a clearly identified external communications strategy and a tailored approach to market so that it can be successful.
To summarize the above, I would like to conclude that obviously, teams and organisations need visionary and powerful leaders who are able to put their ‘creative thinking cap’ on and translate sometimes vague and ‘fancy’ ideas into real products and services adapted to customer’s needs and markets. Nevertheless, in my experience, effective internal (intercultural) communications, mixed with a culture of trust and appreciation through valid and constructive feedback are really the “secret” ingredients for successful innovation, significantly boosting a company’s initiatives.
Do you have any experience with innovation and what works/what doesn’t? Looking forward to reading/hearing about it!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Innovation-Action.com. We would be pleased to show you our portfolio and discuss ways to ensure the success of your respective innovation processes and undertakings!
Have an excellent weekend!