Making Innovation A Priority for 2024

One of the greatest innovators of our time, Thomas Edison, taught us that mindset and willingness to invest in learning are also critical to innovating. With 1093 U.S. patents, he said: “I have not failed.  I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” My challenge to you is to begin to lay the foundation for decades of innovation in 2024.  What new innovations will you pilot to learn new ways of serving your customers and differentiating your organization?  My recommendation is to prototype and pilot three new concepts rapidly with the intention of learning and improving from each pilot over the course of the next year or two.

Did you know that 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 list have disappeared over the last 20 years?  Innovation is the life blood of all successful organizations – both profit and non-profit! Without innovation organizations stagnate and become less valuable to their customers, leaders and to the potential leaders they hope to attract.  Talented leaders and high potential employees want to play on a winning team. Ironically, playing it safe is the riskiest strategy.

The way your organization thinks about innovation really matters.  A team that is afraid of failing will not take big enough risks to truly innovate. The CEOs of both P&G and Microsoft both realized this was true in their organization and evolved their cultures to be learning organizations rather than experts that could not fail.  Both organizations trained all leaders and managers to change specific behaviors and these behaviors were reinforced by management. My recommendation is to think about how your culture needs to change fundamentally to test and refine new ideas and concepts collaboratively and rapidly, and ask these questions:

  • What behaviors and values need to be changed, and how can we make these changes?
  • Do we need to redefine failure as learning and refinement? 
  • Do we need to instill a sense of urgency to learn rapidly instead of striving to introduce the perfect product or solution?  
  • Do we need to change the way our organization values those who try new concepts and ideas without hitting a home run the first time?

A good leader can be boiled down to their most innovative idea, or rather their legacy. Transformation of an organization begins with innovation, but it ends with implementation. A good leader is the lifeline that connects both innovation and implementation. Having a good idea is one thing, however, using that idea to make real change is what truly makes a leader great. My challenge to you is also to think about how each of your leaders need to change to foster an environment of rapid prototyping and refinement.  My challenge to you is to ultimately think about these behaviors in training, selecting and promoting potential and new leaders.

If you feel stuck, reach out to other leaders who have successfully accomplished this change. They will surprise you with their openness to discussing their challenges and evolution. I promise you they will learn from your conversation as much as you do. We have a solid track record helping other organizations innovate and would love to help you get started on this journey. Don’t let 2024 be the year of the failed resolution, let it be the year that you conquered your obstacles. 

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