The Secret to Boosting Innovation… and the Catch

Written by Brent Lowe and published at

Flower lightbulbWhat if there was a secret that guaranteed your company an exponential innovation boost? And what if there was a small group of people who had figured out this secret? And what if that group was willing to share every intimate detail of that secret for free? Would you be interested?

I’m guessing you would jump at the chance.

Now, what if there’s a catch to learning this secret? And what if that catch requires you to challenge every personal belief you hold about leading business? Would you still do it?

Last week I spent three days with the people who hold this secret. They came together from all over the world to meet in two connected conferences. One in Hungary and one in Canada. These are deep thinkers. Explorers. They share an intense passion for figuring out a better way to run businesses. And together, they’ve found a secret they are willing to share.

Sometimes secrets are so big and so scary, we don’t want to hear them. This could be one of those secrets.

The need for change

Like it or not, our world is changing. With change comes disruption. With disruption comes discomfort. In business, this discomfort is showing up through disengagement. Right now 76% of full-time employees are open to new job opportunities. This raises a big question. How innovative is someone in their current job while thinking about working somewhere else?

The Google generation is looking for a new way of contributing. Power structures no longer work when everyone has access to the same information. Hierarchies collapse when everyone has an equal voice in the virtual world. Sub-par ideas get crushed when power structures can’t protect them.

Yet we still aim to be innovative in organization structures designed for a different time.

The components of an innovative future

Three elements are emerging as critical to building an innovative business. Along with these are a heap of helpful tools to bring these elements to fruition.

Element #1: A clear purpose that balances wealth generation with value

Collectively we are producing too many products and services that add little value. Innovation will come from companies with a clear purpose based on making meaningful contributions. There are big world problems to solve. If your organization isn’t working on them, innovation will stall.

Element #2: A focus on people and relationships

For many years humans were seen as plug-and-play resources for companies. People have been hands or heads or hearts, but rarely all three. Those days are gone for innovative companies. Every. Single. Person. Is unique. And alive. Environments that welcome and embrace that uniqueness and aliveness will see innovation climb.

Element #3: Radically new ways of working together

For generations there has been a clear delineation between employee and employer. Between company and customer.  Google, Facebook and their many siblings have broken that mold. Pyramid models crush innovation. Going forward, businesses that embrace completely new ways of working will thrive.

Making the transition

The secret isn’t in the elements above. These have been written about many times over. The real secret is in the messy work of embracing these elements. Programmed to think of tactical action plans, we’d all love a packaged set of guidelines to follow. The five steps to innovation overdrive would be nice. That list doesn’t exist.

This is where the catch comes into play. The process of transitioning to this new way of being can be challenging. Living in this new world feels completely different because it is completely different. Let me give you a little taste. The “Unleash the Future Now” event I attended last week included a series of activities. The event included group meditation, well-being check-ins, and manager-less company role plays. Sound extreme, crazy, and outside your comfort zone?

It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning. – Claude Bernard

Unleashing innovation

This is just a taste of the secret that is emerging. The knowledge, tools and experience exist today to be on the cutting edge of innovation. The question is, are you ready to learn all there is to know about this secret? Once you learn it, there is no going back.

Here are some important resources that you may find interesting and helpful.

Reinventing Organizations – A revolutionary book that is turning organizations on their head.

Resourceful Humans – A new philosophy and platform for turning your organisation into an entrepreneurial network

Holacracy – A framework for bringing structure and discipline to a peer-to-peer workplace.

Unleash Network – A network of talented people helping organizations evolve to the next stage (I’m part of this network).

If you are ready to learn more about the path to innovation, let’s chat. Check out the Building Blocks coaching program. I coach leaders on building a strong foundation unique to their growing business.

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