I’m a manager – do I have to be innovative?

The short answer is no if surviving as a manager does not matter to you.  Survival?  Well, JFK_2003my view is that the world in which we live is constantly changing and others are adapting to those changes even if you are not.  Nothing stands still.

The Innovator’s DNA – mastering the five skills of disruptive innovators by Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen is highly readable and is probably a must read for ambitious managers wanting to make a real difference.  Associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting are the five discovery skills their research into successful innovators has revealed.  There’s a test you can take online to measure your interest in each of these discovery skills at Innovator’s DNA  I personally found the test very revealing and the results interesting and well worth the small investment.

Essentially you have two choices as a manager – stay with the tried and tested or actively seek out new ways of doing things that you can actually put into practice.  Staying with the status quo may feel like the safe thing to do but it is highly likely to be risky.  It’s not a question of introducing change willy nilly or in an irresponsible manner.  Innovation is all about being connected with trends in the external environment and then developing sensible new approaches to products, services, internal processes and so on.

How do you become more innovative as a manager?  A route map which seems balanced and practical is suggested by the authors of The Innovator’s DNA .

  1. Review your priorities – how much time do you spend on discovery, delivery and development?  If it’s all delivery you’re unlikely to be very innovative.
  2. Assess your discovery skills.  See the link above to the test you can take online.
  3. Identify a compelling innovation challenge.  Introduce a product or service, cut costs or improve performance in some area in your operation.
  4. Practise your discovery skills.  To come up with new ways of doing things.
  5. Get a coach.

Do you have to be innovative as a manager? It might be better for you and others if you do!

Care about something enough to do something about it.

Richard Branson


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