How many of today’s organisations or companies call themselves innovative? The answer..lots! If you don’t believe me check out the various websites, mission statements and glossy brochures doing the rounds. Its literally everywhere. Innovation. Creativity. Market leading, etc. Yet, when I speak to many senior staff in leadership positions they tell me that they are exacerbated by the lack of just that. Innovation and creativity. The staff are working hard but insistent on following the daily routine with their focus exclusively on meeting quarterly targets.
Now, this is what gets me. I ask to see the company staff job descriptions and it is regrettably common place for the words ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ to be nowhere to be seen! Yes, for sure they are regularly contained in the job descriptions of CEOs or other esteemed senior executives but when they are excluded from the job descriptions of all of the other employees what are we saying to them? This is exactly what we are saying to them. ‘We do not value you in terms of being innovative or creative’ and in fact ‘we do not expect you to be innovative or creative’. The fact that it excluded completely from so many employees job descriptions sends out a strong value laden company message. It says that when we measure your performance, innovation and creativity do not even come into the equation. Is it any wonder then if in response those employees behaviour doesn’t demonstrate innovative practice?
Those companies and organisations that are truly innovative know the value of having a culture that values and actively encourages innovation from all levels of employees. In fact, some of the most timely and ground-breaking ideas come from lower level employees because typically they are the ones closest to the customer. They witness at first hand the very changes in market on a day to day basis. They experience these changes oftentimes much faster than those senior employees within the same company. In other words they experience the market in real time rather than relying on historical data which is so often the case for senior executives. Let’s not forget, that these are the very same senior executives that are charged with being innovative!
So, if you want real innovation from each and every employee then revisit your job descriptions and ensure that it is captured there. Where it is included it sends out a very important message to each and every employee. That message is that we value your opinion and we believe that you can work innovatively and creatively. This will in turn lead to better outcomes individually and collectively.