Every revolutionary idea started with just the spark of an idea.
But the spark did not just pop out of the ether, from nowhere. It started with an openness of mind, a discomfort of the soul, an unrelenting energy to change something. In short it started with an attitude!
That is what we need in our country, our world, today: Attitude!
Having an attitude of positive change is not about having people constantly spouting off on the first thing that comes to mind. There is a well-known high-profile president of a big country that does this all the time often with tragic consequences! There is a close correlation between real strong leadership and the creation and maintenance of an attitude of innovation.
Real leaders are constantly on the lookout for ways of improving the world for all; ways of creating and maintaining peace and stability for all. This is the best hope the world has of reducing poverty, dealing with climate change and ensuring sustainable growth.
Great leaders know that they do not own the sole prerogative to innovation and are simply incapable and unable to do this on their own. They know that cannot mandate innovation nor dictatorially command it.
Great leaders are abundantly clear that world-class innovation derives from world-class teamwork. In a world-class team every member knows that her or his opinions and contributions count, no matter how bizarre they may seem to be when first uttered.
Most of us are aware that the world is changing at a dizzying pace; that there are complexities at play that are so filled with nuances that it is impossible for a single person to find ways to deal with them.
We also know that one person can dream up an idea which changes the trajectory of the world – the wheel, the internet, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, Air BnB – just to name a few. We all need new ways of adapting to this increasingly changing environment in which we find ourselves. True meaningful innovation needs to have at its core the objective of producing a positive impact on society.
Innovation is essential in all parts of society, in business, in politics, in art, in sport, throughout society. It is essential because humanity has reached a tipping point. The signs are all around us. Democracy seems unable to produce the kind of innovation necessary to solve 21st century problems. Look at Brexit; the Middle East; China-America. Capitalism is under threat and needs to change, but change to what? The ride of the populist strongmen will almost certainly quell the innovation required for us to find our way through the bogs and complexity of modern 21st life. For any individual to suggest that he and he alone will produce the solutions is just one big impossible lie, no matter how seductive it may sound.
Some organisations have established Innovation departments or appointed some poor soul as Head of Innovation. This approach is doomed to fail. Just as appointing individuals to head up compliance, or transformation, are decisions equally fraught with failure. These are all issues that should be owned and lived by all and should be in the DNA of the organisation.
It is impossible to know from whence the next great idea is going to bubble up!
Great ideas come from moments of individual inspiration; but they are most likely to happen in an environment where people are encouraged to think and act innovatively and without fear of ridicule. What is at least as germane is the fact that while one person might be the wellspring of the idea, it will take teamwork to implement it! Think of the teamwork required to put Neil Armstrong on the moon 51 years ago; or the teamwork needed to build an aircraft; or the teamwork required to win the rugby world cup. We often just focus on the team we can see on the field of play. But the extended team goes way beyond that. In the case of rugby it includes us, the fans (imagine them playing in an empty stadium and no TV!!), the manufacturers of all the equipment; the groundsmen that prepared the playing surface, healthcare professionals, sponsors, media, government and, obviously also the team management and coaching staff.
So, too, is it critical with innovation, real life-changing innovation, to recognise the importance of the team. Indeed, without the team it remains only a stillborn idea. It is the team that gives the idea life. Just as giving life to a new-born babe is a team effort.
Therefore, it must be evident that critical to upwelling of great ideas is the criticality of a collective attitude which predicates all of us to be innovative and to welcome innovation as the road to a new and sustainable future which is good for all.
Indeed, it is about inspiring, people-oriented and future focussed leadership.
Written by : Sirocco Strategy Management
Sirocco was established to work with organisations to guide them in their strategising, and to ensure effective the implementation of their strategies. Implementation depends 100% on the buy-in and commitment of the people in the organisation.