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Innovation Nation

The Australian Government recently announced a program which is expected to “usher in an ideas boom”. While this announcement had a strong inclination towards engagement with technology and research, promoting an “ideas boom” is very exciting for all organisations as it challenges everyone to make a bigger contribution through their ideas. Indeed, the announcement included the following:

“the most important assets we have in this country are not to be found under the ground, but walking around on top of it is the 24 million Australians, the men and women of Australia, these and their ideas are what secures our future”

In other words, ideas matter and the more the better.

Ideas can be like gold in an organisation. Hidden gems which have the potential to enhance organisation performance and capability. Allowing these gems to be revealed requires a concerted focus on key aspects of how an organisation ticks. Take for example Leadership. Is it inspirational and does it foster that passion for success? Are leaders insightful and engaging with their staff and do they demonstrate strong Emotional Quotient and self awareness?

Generating ideas about the organisation requires a greater degree of engagement with staff and an encouragement for risk taking by them. Effective leaders enhance the generation of ideas by their staff which helps them better support the organisation’s vision and strategies.

Ideas can range from the seeming mundane to the strategic with long term implications. For example, a change in form design to better reflect current practice might seem to be unremarkable whereas identifying a new, faster and more effective way to complete a customer request may be more significant by reducing the cost of fulfilment leading to significant savings. Alternatively an idea which sparks the creation of a new marketing channel may generate new revenue potential beyond the current thinking.

Organisational Culture plays a major role in the creation of an environment which nurtures ideas and reinforces the empowerment of its staff. If the organisation declares that generating ideas is a key element of its future success, its up to each and every leader to nurture and promote that concept within and amongst their teams. Leaders must be champions of the culture.

Encouraging ideas within an organisation has to be a ongoing commitment and requires leaders to embrace the challenge. Leaders must inspire confidence and engagement in all staff in the organization to allow their staff to feel confident to open up about their thoughts and ideas. Given this type of encouragement, employees will be prepared to initially “test the water” and take the risk to share their ideas. Through engaging dialog in the context of the organisation’s vision and strategy, an ideas rich environment and culture can be created and sustained.

In a typical fast paced work environment, maintaining an engaging dialog with staff can be a challenge. Pressure to perform comes from within and outside the organization, in addition to deadlines, challenges and unexpected events. This is where effective leaders need to demonstrate a calmness and focus and provide the right guidance which transcends the immediate work concerns. Unfortunately and too often, under pressure leaders will revert to a command and control mode which cuts of the flow of engagement with their staff and can be potentially fatal to ideas generation.

Staff appreciate that the pressure of work will fluctuate and there will be tough days and even weeks. What is essential is that the consistency and effectiveness of leadership continues throughout, leading to an environment of trust or the flow of ideas will stop and the organisation’s potential will be diminished.

As the government has indicated “it is the ideas boom that will secure our prosperity in the future”.

As a leader are you doing enough to encourage and capture these ideas? Find out immediately by investing a few minutes now and taking Populis Leadership Assessment

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