Innovation isn’t in your workplace

Alex Kiragu shows how his innovation of hygienic washing machine works at the exhibition

You sit through strategy planning meetings or retreats. Goals are set. Everyone is excited. You’re convinced about the new corporate direction. Four months later, nothing happens. More talks follow and still, little or no action – even Marvin Gaye would ask, “what’s going on?” So, how can you tell that your innovation meetings are just that – meetings? Consider these three signs.

One: Budget – Yes, we have agreed on a business model or product innovation. Now, what’s the budget? You may have heard the saying, “put your money where your mouth is.” It applies here. Truth is: no budget, no innovation. Every change comes at a price and if you’re not able or willing to pay the price, then why are we talking?

By budget, I don’t mean money alone. How about time and effort? Are you willing to budget or commit time to the process? Is your emotional bank account rich enough to handle the pressure of the innovation process? How much of yourself are you willing to commit? Innovation will cost money, emotions and time. Can you afford it?

Two: Learning Plan – The messy nature of innovation makes learning essential. This is a mindset that understands that the process involves twists, turns and constant adjustments. So, what is the proof that we’re ready to learn? A learning plan. The innovation process is full of mistakes (gold mines or learning opportunities). And we should have a mechanism or system to harness these mistakes.

A systemic approach for documenting lessons learned and applying these new lessons as the project progresses, is a key step in the innovation process. That way, we can track our progress and see the trail that is leading us to success. So, if a learning plan isn’t in place, then the innovation narrative is a joke.

Three: Energy – This is huge. No energy, no innovation. This is the responsibility of the leaders driving an innovative idea. One key element for the success of an ideas is the energy level of the persons driving it.

What is your energy level? Do you have the passion, psychological or emotional drive to inspire or energize others to help you make your idea work? Is your energy sustainable? Or, is your fire easily quenched by challenges along the way? The meetings or talks irrespective, if the energy or drive around an idea is low or non-existent, innovation is unlikely. People need inspiration to keep going – and that’s the essence of energy.



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