Nature is fascinating. A tiny seed is placed into the ground. It is fertilized and watered, sprouting into a fledgling plant. If the soil conditions are just right and the tiny plant receives sunlight, more water, and additional nutrients, it grows into a tree. A tree yields fruit that, in turn, produces more seeds. We harvest the bounty and prune the tree to encourage further growth.
Successful innovation follows the same path as nature. Ideas and organizations are seeded, nurtured, grown and harvested, and pruned for continuous improvement. In the Flagship Innovation Leader program, we call these development stages Learning, Adopting, Transforming, and Sustaining.
A seed has to take root in order to start any growth stage. I have a loquat tree in my backyard. Most years, the number of fruits it produces is manageable but last year, the branches bent over with a bumper crop of fruit. Most of the fruit fell to the ground and consumed by the neighborhood squirrels. Every square inch of my entire backyard was covered in loquat seed remnants.
Yet, not every seed takes root. Many do, but most do not. Learning to be a strong and successful innovation leader is similar. We can provide the necessary elements for innovation success, but most individuals and companies will pass on the difficult challenge to learn skills, to have the desire to take root in learning best practices. Learning requires the proper conditions, including a fertile and open mind; Acceptance of new ideas, theories, or concepts; and support, encouragement, and time to let learning take root.
A fledgling seed sprouts a tiny green shaft above the soil. It grows only if proper nutrients are supplied on an ongoing basis. But as it grow , the small plant will grow stronger and stronger.
Innovation leaders also grow stronger as they adopt new skills and spread best practices within their organizations. Adopting new practices is a little scary and requires strength, just as the seedling needs strength to penetrate through the soil. As you adopt innovation best practices, team-building skills, and new product development (NPD) tools, innovation will grow. I recommend Innovation Best Practices training leading to New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification as way to learn and adopt industry best practices for innovation. Situational Leadership is core curricula for teams seeking successful adoption of best practices and management of innovation projects. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on implementing this brilliant program to enhance team collaboration efforts.
One little seedling requires long periods of sunshine, nutrients, fertilizer, and water to grow into a tree. Likewise, innovation leaders need to learn additional skills, including time management and communication, to transform an organization into a productive, new NPD factory. Implementing Product Portfolio Management in 100 Days, for example, transforms an organization from one that uses NPD processes into an organization that truly creates value for customers and shareholders. Continued investment and nurturing are keys to transforming a fledgling innovation culture into a thriving innovation culture.
Trees provide fruit but also must be pruned to remove the dead wood. Innovation leaders build networks through Master Mind groups and coaching to sustain the pace and liveliness of their innovation programs. We sometimes need to prune bad habits and bureaucratic processes to sustain growth in new product development. Neglecting this step in developing innovation leaders will weaken the system, just as leaving dead wood on a tree eventually weakens its roots.
Flagship Innovation Leader
Do you want to grow in innovation? Just as nature provides a pathway for seeds to be fertilized and watered for growth, successful innovation leaders need to learn the basics of product development, adopt innovation best practices, transform their organizations for productive innovation, and sustain repeatable processes for long-term success. Click here for more information.
Take the Innovation Health Assessment now to benchmark your innovation maturity.
To jumpstart your innovation journey, don’t miss our next webinar. Register here. I’ll cover the summary of our 20 Days of Innovation in 2020. Everyone who attends will receive a copy of the associated eBook. You’ll also want to watch the recording of a recent Q&A webinar on innovation leadership (click here). Of course, your best reference for all things innovation is The Innovation ANSWER Book available at Amazon.
I am inspired by writing, teaching, and coaching. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. I am an experienced professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me at email@example.com or area code 281 + phone 280-8717 for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.
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