Apple, Google and General Electric success stories centre on groundbreaking characters and geniuses. But 99% of companies worldwide are unlike any of these. Most organisations are made up of people like you and me: reasonably proficient in innovation management but surrounded by innovation agnostics. People who can share with us the tough, yet stirring mission of pushing boundaries to shape a bit of future.
Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Thomas Edison – we can learn a lot from inspiring leaders. Many have sought to understand how these geniuses’ brains work. Biographies and guides abound on how to be the next business star. Just scan through any physical or virtual bookshelf.
Now, put individual brilliance aside for one moment. Think about the expertise, knowledge, experience and different backgrounds of each and every one of your employees. Multiply that by a single, shared purpose you have identified as a top priority. The possibilities are endless.
Unsung heroes do play relevant roles. Still, we, as managers, too often overlook our company’s most valuable asset: the collective intelligence of the people working with us. I always say that each company has the answers to many of its current challenges within itself (read ‘Sitting on Untapped Potential – The Power of Your Organisation’s Collective Intelligence’).
Many of your employees and stakeholders have the potential to be real innovators. But they may lack the tools, methods and incentives to do it. Others may be equipped with management tools but fail to view their challenges as innovation opportunities – ones requiring differentiated approaches to reach a new set of answers.
Besides (as you know, if you’ve been walking the innovation road for some time), relying on an innovation team or department to do all the work no longer functions. You need to tap into the ideas and experience of everyone working with you. But how can you do it?
The idea management foot soldiers