Are You a Bad Innovator?



In today’s economy, a business’ likelihood to succeed is directly correlated with its ability to innovate.


But most organizations change and innovate way too slowly, if at all.


My Growthink colleague Stephen Lehtonen has developed an eight question test to measure an organization's Innovation Quotient , or its "IQ."


The test measures organizational attributes like clarity of mission, process for pursuing new initiatives, the change-friendliness of its culture, and its "intuition" as to customers wants and preferences.


I encourage all to take the test here, as it gives a powerful snapshot of the innovation aspects of businesses that are best of class, and reveals those needing re-engineering and rejuvenation.


Business leaders should also look within and authentically ask themselves how committed and able they are, at this point in time, to lead dynamic change and growth at their companies.


Sadly, my experience is that most of them simply are not, for two main reasons - both involving that ephemeral but fundamental quality of energy:


The first is discouraged energy, or burnout, caused by the passage of time, by much hard work without ample rest, and by attempting very many new things that just didn’t work out and produce as planned.


Telltale signs of companies with discouraged leaders include high levels of absenteeism, late completion of assigned tasks, little - if any - organizational initiative, and just those sad feelings of hopelessness and negativity.


The second is unfocused energy, where a great "fighting spirit" is alive and well, but is scattered, with multiple new initiatives being pursued at the same time, without a clear sense of prioritization or realistic time frames for completion.


Tell-tale signs of companies led like this are meetings without clearly defined agendas or action items flowing from them, and a pervasive unease among the company's line workers as to which projects and to dos in their work day should be given the most attention and time.


In both these scenarios, the outcome is the same: a business that doesn’t innovate - it either doesn’t conjure up good, new initiatives to pursue, or if it does, is unable to pursue them quickly or effectively.


Luckily, and unsurprisingly, the fix for both energy problems starts with business leaders recognizing their complete power and ability to do something about it.


For the burned out leader, the answer might simply be a long vacation.


Yes, I know real vacations from modern work are hard to make happen, as technology keeps us always tethered.


But we have to recognize that in spite of our technological advancements, as human beings we are still built for natural cycles of work and rest.


As for the scattered and frenetic leader, the answer could simply be to learn how to do his or her job better - to study and imbibe the canon of business leadership literature and slowly but surely cultivate a new executive persona and approach.


And for those in between - maybe both a little burned out and a little disorganized....


...well, combine the best of both.


Take a nice vacation and read some great business books while on it.


Because yes, sometimes the business can wait.


And when we return to work re-focused and refreshed, we might find we can easily accomplish in just a few short hours those things that now seem impossibly hard to even start.


Because yes, sometimes we do need to take a step back, to refresh and reset, so as to lead our companies to an innovative leap forward.


How about You? How well does your organization innovate?


Are you discouraged? Scattered?


Was your last new product or service launch a huge success?


Have you successfully built systems to streamline operations and increase sales and profits like clockwork?


If so, great!


If not take this assessment to find out where your company stands on the innovation spectrum.


And quickly learn where and how your company can innovate more predictably, better and faster than ever before.


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