Why Is Innovation Important?


Rotary Telephone


Think of the telephone. My grandparents had the same rotary phone for over 30 years! The whole family shared the phone, if you wanted to call, you had to wait your turn. The phone was basic and reliable.

 Yesterday, I went out with my daughter to buy a cell phone. This was to replace her “old’ cell phone, you know, the one she’s had for a year. The new phone offers a better camera, faster processor and improved touch screen capabilities. Her new phone is both improved and reliable.

Besides the fact that my daughter is extremely spoiled, this story points out a fundamental truth: Continual change is not only the new norm, it is an expected organizational behavior.

To continually innovate, you need to have people willing to contribute their intellectual capital. This requires more than a memo, it requires and environment that invites and encourages ideas.

A recent Gallop poll on innovation reinforced this point:

“When examined through the employee engagement lens, the impact of these factors -- focusing on strengths and encouraging new ideas -- was even more evident. Sixty-five percent of all engaged employees stated that their organization is committed to building employee strengths and encourages new ideas that defy conventional wisdom. Among actively disengaged employees, this number plummets to a mere 2%.”

In other words, innovation isn’t something people just do. It requires a place where they feel safe to take a chance.

Here is a simple formula Gallop offered: 

Strengths development + engagement = innovation

So what they identified, and what you should take to heart, is that people are innovative not by the organization getting out of the way, but by it being an encouraging, positive force in the process.

Here are 4 ways to help people grow and be engaged:

  • Acknowledge good behaviors
  • Encourage personal growth
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Show you care about their well-being

Innovation isn’t just important in today’s changing workplace it’s vital. Building an environment that focuses on strengths and invites engagement will help you get the best ideas out of everyone.

Excerpts from: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/27145/innovation-equation.aspx