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Innovation Leadership – a problem worth solving

Today’s economy is more complex, connected and dynamic than ever before. Leaders are faced with doing more, faster and more simply in order to survive. Organizations that demonstrate creative difference have proven more adaptive and will outperform their competitors. “Traditional prescriptions such as cost reduction, reengineering and outsourcing, while critically important, cannot solve the problems of margin pressure”. Innovation and customer experience are the new frontier for differentiation and growth.

Companies are placing increased emphasis on building creative, collaborative cultures in order to position for growth. Despite this increased focus on innovation and collaboration, research still suggests an over 65% failure rate on innovation programs. Simply asking leaders to be more innovative, and even teaching them more about the innovation process is not enough.

The reality is that today’s leaders operate in a constant state of information and communication overload. As a result, attention fragmentation is at an all-time high. “Always-on, multitasking work environments are killing productivity, dampening creativity, and making us unhappy.” Many of today’s leaders are either specialized high-performers who find themselves ill-equipped to lead innovation at the pace required, or do have the skills yet don’t have the time to do what they know it takes to deliver meaningful results. The unfortunate result: failed strategy, burnt-out leaders, and a rudderless, overtaxed workforce.

“The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. The era of “left brain” dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which “right brain” qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate”. Leaders need help reducing the noise, creating simple informed solutions and inspiring teams to deliver on creative difference. They need help placing relentless focus on conquering complexity, embracing simple and informed solutions, and identifying small steps that will bring about big change.

Today’s leaders also need help (and often permission) to offer time and space to deeper quests for purpose, health and fulfillment as these aspects are becoming table-stakes for an inspired workforce. There is a lot of focus on the ‘process’ of innovation, but little focus on the behaviors and climates that will help fuel, and sustain the journey. We are amidst an innovation revolution and we must support leaders who will pioneer the way.