Innovation and leadership

The two most important points about innovation and leadership come from week 1 of this course. First, innovation replaces the old with the new. Second, innovation is a deliberate effort and can be influenced by policy and leadership. I feel these two themes build the foundation for the other points on innovation presented so far.

I think the word innovation gets thrown around a lot but that true innovation replaces old technology and ideas with fundamentally new concepts. As I mentioned in RAR 1, Loehr gives several examples to support this such as “the motor did not evolve from better breeding of horses, neither was electric light derived from improved candles (p. 13).” These examples of technological breakthroughs represent what I would consider true innovation. The task may remain the same, application of work in the case of the horse/motor and production of light in the case of the candle/electric light, but the way it is achieved changes the industry and applications by the end user.

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Leaders must recognize the impact of innovation and adapt their organizations to survive. The video featuring Guy Kawasaki describes the importance of defining a mantra. Much like the examples from Lohr, Guy describes dead industries such as ice harvesters that were replaced by ice houses (manufacturers) that were eventually replaced by refrigeration. Each new technology provided the same service, the production of cold, which destroyed the previous generation of technology. By defining mantras leaders can look beyond their current activities and recognize the services they provide and understand the impact of innovation on their organizations.

The second point is that innovation is deliberate effort. For organizations innovation is a choice and is enhanced by having the right people and processes in place. Leaders must hire people that are disruptive thinkers and can challenge the status quo. Leaders must all give those people a voice to express their ideas through a supportive environment and innovative policies. In Hal Gregersen’s interview he speaks to leaders and organizations in a constant state of questioning the normal. When questioning the normal is a regular part of the process, it allows the safety net for an organization to innovate at every level.

Lohr, K. (2016). The Science of Innovation: A Comprehensive Approach for Innovation Management (De Gruyter Textbook) (Digital original ed.). Walter de Gruyter.

MIT Leadership Center. (2015). Innovative Leaders Make Innovative Companies – Hal Gregersen. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvtkQ3qhfcI

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