When it comes to creating innovation across an organisation, I often find myself drifting back to think of the great L&D gem that the great leadership facilitator Colin James shared with me. If you want your people to learn and adopt something new, be it innovation or anything else for that matter. You will need to have three components covered.
1. Chance to innovate
2. How to innovate
3. Want to innovate
Chance to innovate
If you want your innovation in your organisation then you need to give your people the permission and chance to innovate. No permission, means no innovation.
How to innovate
At the same time your people need to know watt innovation actually means and how to do it, by utilising innovation skills, techniques and tools. Quite often we ask for innovation, without considering the skills that may be required to innovate.
Want to innovate
Finally we also need our people to have the desire to innovate. We can't always instil desire, yet we can inspire our people to innovate through inspiring stories and words of encouragement.
In this little blurb I wanted to share a story about the power of encouragement.
I recently came back from representing Australia at the 20th World Hang gliding championships in Mexico. I was also lucky enough to come back from it with a team bronze medal, which has been the first time in over 10 years since the Australians have been on the podium. None of this would have happened without the power of encouragement.
Around 18 months ago I was competing in a hang gliding competition for the first time in a very long time. I had never been a very competitive or successful hang gliding competition pilot before, when I had a great chat with a multiple world champion Corinna Schwiegershausen from Germany.
I had not seen Corinna for many years and she was excited that I was once again competing. What was different was that I had a new top of the range hang glider and she could see some potential in my flying. Corinna asked me if I was interested in flying better and possibly making the Australian Team. Of course that would be an amazing thing but very unlikely as I was ranked some where in the 70's on the Australian National Ladder at the time. That fact didn't seem to phase Corinna and all she focused on was encouraging me. Her first encouragement was simply saying that she believed I could make the team.
The competition ended and the seed was sewn. Unfortunately just a couple of weeks later, I had an accident and smashed up my ankle and was left with some permanent cartilage damage and a very sore ankle. The encouragement continued with quotes such as "You should compete at the Australian Nationals, remember it's a towing event so you don't have to run off the hill".
The encouragement helped and I did compete, often landing on one leg to avoid my damaged ankle and subsequently my ranking rose.
Then the big encouragement came with "Why don't you come and compete at the Pre Worlds comp in Mexico (held one year before the word championships)". I was unsure about this. My ankle was still very weak and sore, I'd never flown a hang glider overseas before, and the region we would fly in Mexico was renowned for its dangerous landings due to the high altitude.
I wasn't to confident about it, had lots of reservations, and yet still the encouragement came. In the end her encouragement won me over and off I went. Little did I know how amazing and scary it would be all at the same time. I survived, flew well and my national ranking rose.
Then came the postcard. A simple handwritten postcard with some kind words of encouragement. I had something to stick on my wall to inspire me to make the team.
Winter was approaching and the hang gliding season in Australia was finished, and yet there was more encouragement. Why not come to compete in the German Nationals?
I was reluctant, and yet she persisted with the encouragement and suggested I could use a spare glider of hers. I finally committed to compete in the German Nationals and the encouragement expanded. There were actually two more competitions being held at the same place, one a couple of weeks before and one the week after. Thanks to Corinna saying how amazing and challenging the flying would be I was inspired and entered all three comps.
I flew over snow capped mountains, won my first ever international competition, had some great results in the other comps and again my national ranking rose. I was in with a chance to make the team.
One competition in France and two Australian competitions later I had made the Australian Team and I was going to mexico.
The reason I share that story is, never underestimate the power of your encouragement. It can work for inspiring innovation, performance and any other area that you may wish your people to improve in.
What ways can you encourage your people to innovate?