“Some will grumble that roses have thorns. I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
How many times have you said, or heard someone else say, “I’ve said that a thousand times, but nobody listens!” Innovation is more than just a great idea. It’s everything that comes after it. And it lives among clear skies, and it lives among thorns and requires us to walk steady through both scenes. And as we walk through these ideas, these changes, these innovative approaches, we find there are considerations to be given. Considerations, like :
Who would this affect?
Who walks the journey with you? Who might get lost when your idea changes the terrain? Who might take it as a tool to help give their own journey structure, support, or a new view of the scene? These stakeholders need to be included in the process of flushing out ideas. Their input will help clue you in to what types of obstacles might exist, what types of questions need to be explored. If you do not take the time to engage people in thoughtful discussions, in careful examination of a new route or change in direction or shift in course, your ideas will remain just that. Your ideas. What you want them to be, are our ideas.
What systems currently exist that might influence implementation?
When we consider this question, the natural thing is to start thinking of what might block or prevent the implementation of change. This of course needs to be a consideration. But what is equally important is to identify current systems that would give movement and traction to the idea. Current practices that might help give that idea traction, and sustainability. People who can both shape and further define that idea. We often don’t consider these parts of our system, because we are hyper focused on what roadblocks might come up. Creativity is more than just an idea. It’s also the ability to identify and leverage current idea multipliers that exist. Multipliers that you may not have even thought of. Those stakeholders that you are currently brainstorming with can help you identify both the roadblocks and the fuel stops that exist within your organization-fuel stops that can give the idea it’s legs.
Find Your Traffic Controllers.
Pilots do not fly the plane solo. There exists a team of people who coordinate. Who are not necessarily in the plane, but are equally participating in the smooth operation and flight plan. Innovation requires a focus on both ideas and implementation. One can be insanely creative with ideas but none of us, alone, posses the 360-degree orientation necessary for implementing systems changes. The behind-the-scenes knowledge of things that can help – or hinder – implementation. Find those with knowledge of those multipliers discussed above. With talents that lie in the areas of detail management, or influence, or data analysis, or whatever other areas you have identified as roadblocks and fuel stops. And allow them to help navigate. They often see things you don’t, or can’t, from your position.
Monitor The Course.
Once an idea has been put out there, once the implementation process begins, it is important to monitor frequently the affect it is, or is not, having. Sometimes, time is on your side. The idea gains traction right off the bat and you push forward, letting it ebb and flow and measuring disruption and progress along the way. Sometimes not. Sometimes patience is part of the process for implementing. Other times, the disruption is creating new sets of issues. Things that were not identified earlier but are now clearly visible. And so we regroup. We discuss. We talk about twists and turns and changes in course. And sometimes we find that current realities exist that, right now, prevent this disruption. Maybe even cause our great idea to have the opposite effect. And this is where we can…
We shine a light on those current realities. Those roadblocks. We allow ourselves to walk among them, to examine them. Roadblocks that snag the edges of our ideas can give them more depth and cause our ideas to shift in new dimensions. What began as a small pocket of change can become larger, systemic change as we examine those roadblocks. What was once an idea that would serve one distinct purpose can become something of a disruption to many other processes and purposes. Here, right here in this landscape of snags and jagged edges, we define and refine beliefs here. We find influence and ideals, as we walk through this uncomfortable landscape. We uncover desires, motivations, and passions. This is where many may give up. However, it is also where the greatest impact and change might occur. So we are wise to linger here, in this strange and scary, and sometimes inhospitable, area. We linger here so that we might challenge, and think, and examine, and define ourselves and our organizations… once again.
And isn’t that the very nature of growth. Of creativity. And of disruption.