Language and culture are inseparable in that what we say influences what we think, what we feel and what we believe. This is reinforced at the corporate level in a recent HBR blog, by Kevin Allen, “How language shapes your organization” where he states that “Cultural permission is the tone, attitude and language that emanates from the executive suite. It is a mantra, expressed in oft-used catch phrases and philosophies that move like waves through the organization. They get adopted and interpreted as actions to be followed. They become part of everyday lexicon and cultural idioms that people hear coming from the highest levels, and form a platform for what the organization believes and expects of its people”. When I embarked on my innovative leadership research and learning journey, I found it enormously challenging to discover, discern and describe the kind of language and key phrases I could embrace to establish innovation meaning. This resulted in the definition of 5 key innovation mantras as innovation definition imperatives. Hoping that these could illustrate and generate the type of innovative culture and innovative leadership style to develop in present time to create a future time where innovation flourishes and phrases like; “solving the global water issue was child’s play” and “eliminating poverty and violence in Africa was a piece of cake”.
In a blog, Innovate on Purpose, “Why a common language matters for innovation” Jeffrey Phillips, states that “when executives don’t create a consistent definition of innovation, and don’t bother to construct a common language about innovation, everyone interprets the needs and goals in their own context”.
If you want to develop an innovative organizational culture, from which innovative leaders and managers can emerge, facilitate organization growth, value and competitiveness in uncertain and unstable times, then developing an agreed innovation definition is crucial.
Establishing innovation meaning
Here are the top 5 generative questions, to experiment with and integrate into your innovation definition:
- In what ways could we be provocative and disrupt the status quo/current thinking around this idea/issue?
Oxford Dictionary – provocative – “Interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem.”
Oxford Dictionary – disrupt – “Causing anger or another strong reaction, especially deliberately”
– Allows people to question and challenge convention, rules and the cultural norms and create thresholds and openings for thinking differently.
- How is it possible for us to deviate from that perspective/practice/process?
Oxford Dictionary – deviate – “Depart from an established course”
– Allows people to question and break the rules, generate possibilities for deviating from conventional reality and break cultural norms.
- How can we generate a solution to this challenge?
Oxford Dictionary – generate – “Produce or create”
– Enables people take a whole systems perspective, to zoom in, up, down and around and really hit the systemic nature of the problem so that they can override complexity and uncertainty and focus on ‘what’s really going on’ and develop creative solutions.
- What is the emergent nature of his problem/situation/opportunity and how can we diverge from our conventional reality and from what we already know?
Oxford dictionary – emergent – “Tending to be different or develop in different directions”
Oxford Dictionary – diverge- “In the process of coming into being or becoming prominent”
– Enables people to shift from ‘what is’ towards ‘what could be’ and to tune into the whole system to discover new possibilities that can be generated into creative ideas and solutions.
- What do you need to iterate and pivot this process/idea or solution to deliver a more commercial prototype?
Oxford Dictionary – iterate- “Perform or utter repeatedly”
Oxford Dictionary – pivot- “The central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates”.
Oxford Dictionary – prototype – “first or preliminary version of a device or vehicle from which other forms are developed.”
– Gives people permission to experiment, play and improvise, to fail quickly to learn fast, without being blamed or punished for making mistakes to come up with something that may not have previously existed.
An innovation culture is both necessity and possibility driven. It is fueled by passion, and is adaptive and emergent, as well as experimental, collaborative and courageous. Where people are led and coached and are fully engaged through the development the desired behaviors, effective systems and transparent symbols that support innovation.
These are built on the critical foundations of a common language and a common understanding that leverages talent, creates a coherent innovation definition and makes innovation part of everyone’s jobs every day.
So take a moment to retreat and reflect on the types of innovation definition and mantras your organization could adopt as innovation imperatives. That you could adopt practices and questions on a daily basis to invoke the very best results for your people, teams, organisations and customers – and consider what you would like to act differently around for innovation to flourish in your organization!
At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.
Contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business in the digital age.