This week’s post was written by Dave Crumrine.
How Do Innovation and Change Really Happen?
Like many things in organizational life, Innovation and Change require energy. Whether you envision a seed needing fertilizer or energy from the sun, or some other metaphor, innovation and change need nurturing. It could look like supporting someone with a passion, an idea they want to see flourish, or simply a need that pops up in the course of business. But organizations don’t go looking for these opportunities; they must be pushed, presented, or otherwise “poked” into the organization.
Often, certain people are more likely to present their ideas; they seem to be more predisposed to them. But organizational momentum can be the great “killer of ideas.” We all are fond of our routines and have grown used to “how it works.” Upsetting the status quo just doesn’t seem to be the right thing to do. That is why leaders must be the agents of change. They need to be the advocates of change and, of course, to innovate they will need to conquer the change that follows.
Ideas without implementation are simply daydreams. Through your early training, you have already learned that the manager in us keeps things predictable and performing. The leader within us is driven to promote the change required to win in the future. Knowing when it is time to drive innovation and change is the leader’s task – perhaps one of the most important he or she carries. Without this trigger coming from leaders, change simply doesn’t happen.
Many of us have seen people or organizations that seem devoid of an ability to change. How do you perceive them? Do you imagine they recognize this weakness from the inside of their own organization? This is the big difference. Are the organization’s leaders seeing the need and acting on it?
After we recognize a need, leaders must have the skills and knowledge to help their teams pick the right change to pursue, all the way from building the right brainstorming team, offering a great challenge question, and on through Kotter’s 8-stage change process. In every change I have led over the years, if the initiative was struggling, I went back and looked at the change model. I could tell within minutes where I had gone wrong and where I needed to shore up the process. It was still difficult, and there was lots of work to do, but there is a reliable process for making change, and leaders drive it.
From the beginning, Interstates has had more than its share of leaders who wanted to make change – to do things differently, to make it better. This is why our “Why Statement” has one of its core ideas as “Pursuing a Better Way.” At Interstates we have always believed this was our job to do. Not only is it the right thing to do for our clients and industry, it emotionally feeds and drives us. We derive energy from implementing change and doing it well.
This process takes energy. To make things happen in an expanding organization, we need leaders all the way through to be looking for needed innovation and then driving the change as well. We have invested in education and staff to build up innovation and alter thinking, but we will always need leaders throughout the organization who see it as their role to ask the tough questions, to challenge the status quo, and to really drive toward a better way.
Thanks for being one of those leaders! Make sure you have “put on your armor” of change management and innovation knowledge. It makes for a powerful set of tools for conquering challenge and change.
Continue Leading the Interstates Way!