“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
We are exploring the “Big 8” competencies that separate good leaders from great leaders (as identified by Korn/Ferry Lominger). The third competency is innovation management.
Those who are skilled in innovation management are good at bringing ideas to life. They can facilitate others through the creative process, brainstorm effectively, select the good from the bad ideas and foresee how potential ideas will play out in the marketplace.
On the other hand, leaders who are unskilled in innovation management are unable to judge a good idea from a bad one and can’t predict which idea will best perform in the marketplace. They are often resistant to creative ideas, avoid change and stay in their comfort zones. They are unskilled at leading others through the creative process.
Being innovative involves understanding, selecting, and follow through.
You must understand your marketplace; what your customers want and what they don’t want. What will it take to bring non-customers on board? What is not currently being offered in the marketplace or is being done poorly by other players? If you do not have a clear understanding of your marketplace, there is a good chance you will not look in the right areas for innovation.
Once you have gone through a brainstorming process, you must be able to dig through all the ideas generated and select the best, most viable one. This will involve skill in dealing with ambiguity as there is no crystal ball that will point conclusively to the “right” idea. The key here is to select a good idea or direction and commit to it.
Once you have selected your idea or direction, innovation management involves bringing it to fruition. This is often where good ideas fail. Execution is key.