How Innovation Actually Happens

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

In the September 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review, Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and global authority on innovation, writes: “For as long as we can remember, innovation has been a top priority—and a top frustration—for leaders.” Christensen goes on to report data from a recent McKinsey poll that found 84 percent of global executives think innovation is extremely important to their growth strategies, but a staggering 94 percent are dissatisfied with their organizations’ innovation.   Ask any group of people to define creativity and innovation and their lists will likely be nearly identical. In reality, those terms are as different as terms like activity vs. results. Let’s differentiate creativity and innovation by using a plain-spoken definition: Creativity is about coming up with the big idea; innovation is about executing on the idea—converting the idea into a successful business proposition of value. 

Which do you think is easier? Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that anyone can come up with an idea, but few people can either put together a team, an environment, or a process that converts that idea to something useful. For instance, in the case of public service organizations and nonprofits, it’s about creating value of a different sort—a better city, classroom, or congregation. 


In Solving the Innovation Mystery: A Workplace Whodunit, I examine the slower moving truth of how innovation actually happens—and just why we must resist the hero tale and the mirage that is the eureka moment.

Read a sample chapter from Solving the Innovation Mystery here.

About the Author
Distinguished executive coach, author, and speaker, Steve Gladis is a leadership expert. CEO of Steve Gladis Leadership Partners—a leadership development company—he is the author of 21 books on leadership and a professor at George Mason University in the Mason Institute for Leadership Excellence. His company works with businesses, associations, and U.S. government agencies, and he speaks regularly at conferences and corporate gatherings. A former faculty member at the University of Virginia, Gladis also served as an FBI special agent and was a decorated officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. His company donates a significant portion of corporate profits back to the community. His most recent books are Smile. Breathe. Listen: The 3 Mindful Acts for Leaders and Positive Leadership: The Game Changer at Work. Twitter: @SteveGladis Leadership Blog: Survival Leadership
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