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A Time for Innovation, General Topics, Leadership

Why is Innovation often “hit or miss?”

By: Dr. Greg McLaughlin, VP, Global Targeting

This question has baffled many executives for quite some time. We all recognize innovation such as Apple’s I Pad without understanding how that innovation came about. Management tries to replicate the special event or circumstances that created the innovation but often fail. Companies have created positions such as Chief Innovation Officer, innovation teams, and organizational strategies that promote innovation through diversity, team dynamics and social networking. However, failure rates of 90% are common when innovations occur due purely to chance.

So, what is the key to successful innovation? Is it more allocated funds, more opportunities for good ideas to permeate the organization or is it better leadership and management practices? Although all these strategies are helpful, it is clearly not the answer to this baffling question. What sustains innovation in an organization is clarifying the meaning of innovation and applying this comprehension within the organization.

From our research at Global Targeting, we are finding that individuals define and clarify innovation into three separate but related components. The first component, a very traditional element of innovation, is a new product or service. That is, something different that has not existed previously. The second component is innovation that comes from improvement in product (service), process or procedure. The third component is innovation through change. Change refers to replacing what has existed with something different. What is fascinating is that for whatever cultural group studied, our research validates these three dimensions of innovation.

Diversity in the workforce is certainly a change occurring in the workforce that can lead to innovation. Think of innovation as portrait that individuals view and interpret. Each person views innovation and interprets its meaning with a unique perspective. The complexity in understanding innovation, at the individual level is that different people assign different importance and significance to these unique characteristics. There is, in fact, a diversity of perception in defining innovation. This diversity of perception is one of the compelling reasons why innovation is so often “hit or miss.” Therefore, defining innovation and aligning individuals to the perceived definition and desired outcome is critical for success.

In conclusion, for innovation to be successful beyond a “hit or miss” rate, leaders must accept the diversity of perception regarding innovation and find the tools that align individuals to desired outcome. Otherwise, chaos will persist and innovation is more a discrete event than a planned and managed function.

Come visit with Dr. Vinny Caraballo, Tony Bynum, Lino Carrillo, and myself on Wednesday afternoon at session W3-H, Beyond Diversity: Selecting Individuals/Teams to Maximize Innovation, so that we can share our insights with you. To get you ready for the session, look for some of our team members to post a few tidbits in this site. In the meantime, visit this site to read some more of our work. See you at the Forum.

A Time for Innovation, General Topics, Leadership

Beyond Diversity: Managing for Innovation Success

By Dr. Vinny Caraballo, CEO, Global Targeting

In the 21st century all business has the potential to be conducted on a global scale. Advances in Information Communications Technology (ICT) have created an environment where companies can reach markets in remote locations and deliver through a network of partners and alliances that add value along the supply chain. This meshing of organizational capabilities enables many firms to achieve parity on several fronts. In this environment companies must differentiate themselves to offset the advantages that a global communications infrastructure enables. Developing successful innovation programs and outcomes is how companies will differentiate themselves. “A Time for Innovation,” is more than a conference theme. It is also an opportunity for D&I Managers to take their skills to the next level, broaden their perspective, and learn new solutions.

Innovation is a complex concept that most firms treat as an event rather than an on-going and integral part of their business. Some companies also tend to focus on innovation process rather than focusing on the human aspect of innovation. Innovation emanates from human beings that are shaped by their cultural environment. Consequently, cultures will view and define innovation differently. Understanding attitudes, opinions, and disposition towards innovation is key to integrating resources and aligning them to produce successful innovation outcomes. It is this drive to understand how culture impacts innovation that drives the efforts of Global Targeting.

Operating in a global economy means you already have a diversified workforce. The concept of diversity and inclusion is predominantly a US construct, but more global firms have found that understanding diverse cultures will yield improved business performance. Integrating diverse ideas will also add to a collective body of knowledge. This same thought process has been applied to the concept of innovation, because many managers believe that diversity will automatically lead to innovation. But this approach is too simplistic and can lead to disappointing results if organizing teams for innovation is based on diversity alone. It goes beyond diversity.

Innovation success is based on understanding how cultures define innovation and selecting individual team members that are similar in their goal alignments. At the Forum, Global Targeting will share the results of our Project Impact research showing how innovation is defined and how to use our tools to select teams for individual success. Our study brings results from Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South America, and the USA. Diversity managers can benefit from our insights and exposure to our tools and methodologies, because our research is:

·         Global in scale

·         Empirically based

·         Application driven

Come visit with Dr. Greg McLaughlin, Tony Bynum, Lino Carrillo, and myself on Wednesday afternoon at session W3-H, Beyond Diversity: Selecting Individuals/Teams to Maximize Innovation, so that we can share our insights with you. To get you ready for the session, look for some of our team members to post a few tidbits in this site. In the meantime, visit this site to read some more of our work. See you at the Forum.


Twelve Statements to Ponder as You Build Your D&I Leadership Potential

Guest post from Richard Friend, Ph.D., Friend and Associates.

If leadership involves the use of self to influence others, and leaders at their best are lifelong learners, this is the perfect time of year to commit to the ongoing self-development required to enhance YOUR diversity and inclusion (D&I) leadership potential.  Below are 12 statements to ponder, one per month, over the next year.  Explore each statement in writing then discuss them and solicit feedback from your colleagues, trusted friends, family members and from those whose followership you are trying to inspire and mobilize.  Pay attention to the themes that emerge each month as you contemplate each of the statements, and notice the patterns that surface during this year long self-reflection process.

Since people follow people before they follow plans, leadership development at its core is a journey inward.  The first set of statements focus on knowing yourself, building authenticity and aligning your actions with your values.  The remaining few focus more outward on the leadership resources required to influence others.

  1. The most critical life event that has shaped the diversity and inclusion leadership path I’ve taken is…
  2. The difference I want to see/make with respect to diversity and inclusion is…
  3. The risk I need to take to be a more effective D&I leader is…
  4. My D&I “hot buttons” and “blind spots” include… I have learned to manage them by…
  5. With respect to D&I, times when I am at my best include…  Times when I am most challenged include…
  6. An example where I recently leaned into discomfort as a pathway for D&I learning includes…  What this taught me was…
  7. If others didn’t hold me accountable, one of the things I might not be doing as well or as often with respect to D&I is… If I didn’t hold others accountable, one of the things that might not be happening as well or as often with respect to D&I is…
  8. 8. The people who have helped me grow and stretch most with respect to D&I include… Today I surround myself with folks who continue to teach me about D&I by…
  9. What is uniquely mine to do or be, that engages others to WANT to do what it takes to promote inclusion includes…
  10. With respect to D&I, I know I am I worthy of being followed because…
  11. While it’s not about me, the part of promoting D&I that is up to me is … I manage this paradox by…
  12. How I am able to foster a sense of purpose that transcends me, my team and the organization so we are connected to make a difference that matters in the larger world includes…

Seriously consider these statements and take the time to reflect and dialogue with others about them.  Ongoing and honest self-assessment of this type enhances your ability to make the difference you are here to make as a D&I leader.  On March 20 – 22, 2012 join me and other thought leaders in the D&I field at this year’s Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity.  I will be facilitating an experiential workshop (W1-F) on what followers expect from D&I leaders where we will explore some of the challenges and opportunities embedded in the statements above.  I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!