“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it” – Steve Jobs.
How many of your employees are engaged in advancing innovation—actively seeking to solve problems in new ways?
In many organizations, it is obvious who is working on innovation. It’s those team members who are the visionaries and creatives that lead what we typically call “innovation.”
But what if I told you every team member at every level of your organization could and should be working on innovation (solving problems)?
As we learned last week, there are 3 Levels of Innovation at work within your business:
- Strengthen (your business model)
- Expand (your business model)
- Transform (your business model)
Click here to read last week’s Scoop to learn more about the 3 Level of Innovation.
Do you know which level each of your employees is innovating in? More importantly, do you know where each of your team members could bring the most value within the 3 Levels?
In today’s Scoop, I’m going to help you leverage your team’s DISC strengths within the innovation process to achieve your vision and position yourself for the best possible future.
3 Steps to leveraging your team in the innovation process
Before you can leverage your team’s strength in the innovation process, you must first assess where you are as a company.
Step one is to understand where your organization’s key strategic initiatives are within the 3 Levels of Innovation. Connect each of your company initiatives to one of the 3 Levels of Innovation.
After you have a clear understanding of where each initiative is at, next, look at your strategy and vision to understand what your ideal balance should be.
Depending on where you see your company in 3-5 years (vision) and the means to getting there (strategy), you may need more initiatives in Level 3 innovation or vice versa.
Here’s a real-life example from Stop The Vanilla’s planning process:
We viewed writing our second book, Stop the Vanilla in Your Career and Life, as strengthening our core business model, Level 1. The book strengthens our core differentiation of proactive talent planning by improving our current services.
But coming out with our online career and life planning video course was clearly a Level 2 innovation. It opened up a new delivery channel, online courses, while expanding our core differentiation to be self-served on the career and life side.
Now that you have an idea of where your company is on the 3 Levels of Innovation, the second step is to look at who is currently driving innovation for your company.
Who is driving Level 3 innovation for you? What about Level 1 innovation?
The key here is that the strengths of the person’s natural behavioral style fit the Level(s) of innovation they are most comfortable in. Let’s look at two examples using DISC:
For Level 1 and 2 innovation, someone with a High S & High C would be a great fit. These are your team members who are getting a lot of work done and have an excellent grasp of the day-to-day processes and how to improve them.
For Level 2 and 3 innovation, someone with a High D & High I will perform best. Their visionary and creative strengths help them see problems other can’t, so they then can transform the business model.
Here’s a real-life example of this in our organization:
Cindy, our Client Services Managers, is a High S & High C and excels with Level 1 innovation. I, on the other hand, fall into the High D & High I camp. I prefer to do Level 2 or 3 innovation as it comes naturally to me and leverages my style’s strengths.
Note: Any style may excel at any level of innovation, but we all have a tendency to work on what comes naturally.
After you’ve assessed where each of your team members are, the third step is to put action plans in place to achieve your desired innovation balance.
For Stop The Vanilla, that looked like adding action plans around developing more Level 1 strategic initiatives to achieve a better balance (70/20/10).
We understand that even though our Level 2 and 3 initiatives are important, without consistently strengthening our business model (Level 1), expanding and transforming our business model is not possible.
Your action plans may be similar to ours—moving up or down the 3 Levels of Innovation. Or you may want to focus more on step 2 and better understand who your team is through behavioral science assessments and intentional conversation-development.
Regardless, having an awareness of where innovation is happening and who’s driving it is critically important. Without it, it’s difficult to leverage your team’s strengths in the innovation process to achieve your vision.
Even more important, your people will benefit from increased engagement and satisfaction when empowered to leverage their strengths. It’s a win-win.
Innovation has nothing to do with how much R & D dollars you have, it’s about focusing each team member’s strengths on the level of innovation that comes naturally to them.