When it comes to innovative ideas, our imaginations can get the best of us. In a perfect world, our innovative ideas always succeed, and everyone implements them seamlessly. Sadly, though, this usually isn’t the case.
We’re all heading somewhere, and innovation is the change that helps us get there. Leadership expert Andy Stanley says, “Act like then is now. Then is where we want to be. We’ve got to act like we’re already there.”
Even if you’re not currently introducing something new, as a leader, you likely will be in the future. So here are 8 steps to successfully introduce innovation to your team:
1. Start with your mission
Connect the dots between the change and the goal. Craig Groeschel says, “The mission is constant, but how we accomplish the mission must change.” The same methods only produce the same results.
Harvard Business Review suggests it’s imperative to connect innovation to mission. Your team needs to see how this innovation helps achieve your organization’s end goal.
USC says that when your team knows it’s not about how you look, but how you work together to reach the goal, you discover the unity needed for successful change-adoption. Show your team the big picture.
2. Lead your team by leading yourself
According to Entrepreneur.com, we cannot expect from our team what we aren’t willing to first do ourselves. How can you lead others somewhere you haven’t already been?
Don’t just focus on yourself, though. Forbes reminds us that innovation is about empowering others. How does this change improve things for them? Show by your own example how this innovation can help.
3. Always learn from others first
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Talk to an expert! It’s likely that someone else has already been where you’re headed.
Amazon, Google, Yelp and more have all changed how we shop: reviews. Companies like G2 Crowd, Capterra, etc. provide great peer-reviews from verified users. This way, you gain perspective from someone else’s experience before committing yourself.
Most importantly, Harvard Business Review reminds us to always test run before actually rolling out change. Demos, consultations by experts, connecting with other leaders, etc. are great ways to “try” something before committing.
4. Realize the impact of timing
“People don’t hate change, they hate the way we try to change them”, Craig Groeschel shares. Forcing the right thing onto your team at the wrong time can result in devastating effects on morale and momentum.
What else is going on with your team, both professionally and personally? Is it a busy season? What else has changed lately? Successful change takes energy, and change-fatigue is a real thing.
On some occasions, though, you actually should harness the power of other change to introduce innovation at the same time! For example, a new leader bringing in a new tool will often see better change adoption than an existing leader introducing that same tool.
5. Strong education is essential
Information without inspiration is meaningless. Education is not merely learning data, but rather, a retraining on how we see the world. It’s about helping people see the mission.
In order to properly educate and introduce innovation, you must give your team specific steps to get there. Offer multiple methods of learning: reading, hearing, practicing, etc. Everyone learns differently. Stay available to help them along the way.
6. Be ready to say no
Harvard Business Review explains that when implementing change, you must allow no exceptions. Whether your change is good or bad, you need complete data to draw a proper conclusion.
7. Expect lots of mistakes
Falling forward sometimes gets you further than a calculated step. Northeastern University says failure is the best teacher.
Never be unwilling to say your decision was wrong or could have been executed better. Harvard Business Review says, “Don’t overthink failure… learn from it and apply it.” Count mistakes as a method for growth.
8. Real growth never stops
Healthy things grow, growing things live, and living things change. Harvard Business Review explains that innovation is the process of continuous learning. Progress is a journey, not just one or two steps forward.
Remember, rejection of innovation is likely linked to a leadership problem. “Never complain about what you tolerate,” Groeschel reminds. Cultivate a team culture that embraces open-mindedness.
Fast Company says flexibility is one of the greatest factors of continued growth. For your team to go further, they need to grow further. The more your team innovates, the closer you are to fulfilling your mission.