In a changing world, the life of our business is in innovation, and the leader is responsible for bringing it about. Innovation starts with us.
It is our attitude which allows innovation to grow or smashes it to bits. My subordinate manager suggests we go to working at home, and I cringe. Yes, it is me who is the enemy of innovation that I so desperately need.
Our attitude toward new ideas around us is critical to getting more ideas. If we take on new ideas and encourage them, people will bring us more. That is not to say I will have people start working at home, but our first response to a new idea can be to thank the person for bringing new thought.
If I get thanked every time I bring up a new thought, I will bring more. People who work for us are the same.
New ideas are not mature. They are like an infant. If we take on new ideas by attacking them, then surely they will not survive. New ideas often have a seed of something useful. Let us help them grow into something useful or put them aside gracefully. Our job is to make people feel that their ideas are welcome just because they are new for us. We also need to help people mature their ideas and get our team to carry the same attitude.
Line workers have many ideas: taking longer breaks, getting better uniforms, slowing down to create overtime, and on and on. However, if we are listening and leading, we can find out they know how to shorten the distance between their station and the next. We can find out that they know why we have quality issues. I am often frustrated in China because they are not like me. The good news is that is a base for innovation. The more diversity we can get, the more innovation we will find.
Innovation is among us, but are we leading it to become something better? Do we encourage people to try new ways? Do we celebrate a spirit of experimentation? Do we find ways to get experimentation to be part of our culture?
We can all reach higher. We can make our businesses new if we encourage them to live. It is found first in how we receive that new odd ball idea.