What does your employer need you to be? – more innovative
A recent survey of New Zealand business leaders by journalist Diane Clement asked, what was their number one interview question. Almost half of the respondent’s questions focused on change and innovation. This is no surprise with all we know about the current world of work and with what we are being told to expect.
We will all need to look at doing things differently even challenging the status quo with ideas or solutions.
Gijs van Wulfen in his blog on Innovation used Leon Megginsons quote, It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change as a description of why it is essential for us all to be innovative at work.
He however also admitted that developing and launching innovative ideas, concepts, prototypes and business models is essential but very difficult at the same time.
Most businesses realise this, not only is it hard to generate the new ideas it is also hard to successfully implement the innovation and change successfully.
And so, comes the focus on the interview questions, companies cannot get the innovation they need simply by creating better and more innovative work environments or by introducing systematic methods such as Requirements Guided Innovation (RGI) or any of the other multitude of systematic methods. It certainly helps but they realise they must also recruit people who have shown they can be innovative.
So how can we foster our own innovation and be the attractive employee that businesses need for the future.
In a nutshell “innovative work is a combination of individual motivation, skills and clever teamwork.”
This implies that in addition to specific skills, the ability to communicate, exhibit transparency with colleagues and the ability to inspire and persuade them is critical.
Jack Zenger writing for Forbes Magazine looked at what made top rated leaders successful. The factors of quality work at speed are fundamental for the success of leaders however the next most correlated factor of success is innovation. He suggests 3 simple ways to improve your innovation ability
- Be willing to change
It starts with a restlessness and willingness to consider change. Many people can think of a new, faster, more efficient way to get things done. However, change takes energy, discipline, and a willingness to do something never done before. It takes time and practice for us not to return to our previous level of skill, but over time we see the value of change and perhaps even wonder why we laboured so heavily on inferior approaches before.
- Don’t settle for Good Enough
People who are most likely to be innovative are those who aren’t satisfied with good performance but are relentlessly looking for ways to raise the bar, looking for better methods and options. They excel by setting stretch goals.
- Assemble an Innovative Community
Few innovations are original ideas that no one else has ever had in times past. Many innovations are ideas or approaches borrowed from one discipline and applied to another. Exposing yourself to new and diverse fields can profoundly impact your ability to discover an innovative approach that will increase your speed or the pace of an organisation. Highly innovative leaders are often differentiated by their warm, collaborative relationships within their group. They make themselves highly accessible.
It is no surprise then that there is significant international focus on Diversity in the workplace. Increased opportunity for innovation is one of the key elements of the Diversity discussion. It has been proven that diversity positively and directly impacts the success and the bottom line of organisations. Organisations must assemble diverse and therefore innovative communities.
So, what would be your answer to an interview question in a technical role such as “How do you keep up with new ideas or innovations in your field?” Or for a senior level role “How do you work with others to persuade them to adopt new ideas and get them to do things differently?”
If you can’t provide real examples to these types of questions what will an employer think?
To ensure you remain attractive to your current and future employers, you must be innovative and be able to prove it!