I recently caught up with a long term, highly successful and esteemed colleague who proudly shared with me her latest model for developing high performance leaders in global corporations.  It was a very comprehensive and multi faceted model, that clearly outlined the evolution of her company’s learning and development process for leadership education. What caught my attention was the absence of any reference to adaptive, resilient, agile or innovative leadership, or towards developing capability in ‘on the job’ innovation coaching to retool to win in the next decade.

The world has changed – how is it that she hasn’t noticed?

The recent Quarterly Magazine “Management intuition for the next 50 years” McKinsey & Co avidly describes this newly emerging world, which seriously mandates creating a new paradigm for innovative leadership;

 “The world ahead will be less benign, with more discontinuity and volatility and with long-term charts no longer looking like smooth upward curves, long-held assumptions giving way, and seemingly powerful business models becoming upended.”

“Emerging on the winning side in this increasingly volatile world will depend on how fully leaders recognize the magnitude- and the permanence – of the coming changes and how quickly they alter long-established intuitions”. 

The Boston Consulting Groups 50 Most Innovative Companies Report states that Innovation remains a top-three priority for three-quarters of respondents, with more than 60 percent spending more in 2014 than in 2013. Despite the high priority and increased spending on Innovation, one troubling fact stood out – the fear that “results may be elusive”.

The vast majority of executives, in fact, 70 percent, stated that their companies’ innovation capabilities are only ‘average’ and 13 percent see them as ‘weak’. When they talked with executives around the world, however, the aspiration to raise their innovation game was nearly universal; yet “They ask how does my company breakthrough?”

What is the emerging innovative leadership paradigm?

This emerging paradigm distinguishes between what we know and practice now as ‘leadership’ and what ‘innovation leadership’ really means in terms of capacity, confidence and capabilities. This suggests that we require a new vision of preparing, developing and enabling capable innovative leaders through ‘on the job’ innovation coaching to create the kind of ‘breakthrough innovation’ companies want, need and aspire towards.

How will this be enabled?

This requires a shift from a performance driven system to the development of a learning and performance eco-system. Which is flexible and adaptable, creative and dynamic, and is shaped to enhance individual and organizational effectiveness. To connect people and support them with a broad range of content, processes, and technologies that drive performance and innovation. Innovation coaching is an adaptive, ‘on the job’ bespoke learning through doing process.

There is an opportunity for supporting and enabling leaders to create breakthrough innovations through the development of specialist innovation coaching. For key players in the coaching industry, to maximize this opportunity by shifting their own business games and breaking through to become authentic coaches for innovation!
To create and drive such a system requires a new innovative leadership imperative – the art of breaking through! 

Innovation coaching helps leaders facilitate breakthroughs.

We define this as someone who contributes the best of oneself, and generates the best from others, for the good of the whole – in the context of innovation and entrepreneurship to shape the new world.

Our research suggests that there are seven key breakthrough capabilities and roles for successfully coaching and leading to shift consciousness, and to flow and flourish in an increasingly volatile, uncertain and complex world.

1. Leader as value creator

  • Putting customers first by analyzing markets and behaviors to understand and empathize with their needs, problems and desires.
  •  Adapting lean and agile methodologies and business models to satisfy solve and fulfill these needs, problems and desired.
  • Creating innovative products and services that add value to the quality of their lives in fresh and creative ways.

2. Leader as explorer and visionary

  • Courageously explore uncharted and dangerous waters and relentlessly re-inventing themselves and their organizations.
  • Envisioning wicked problems as possibilities that can be transformed into innovative solutions that customers and clients value and cherish

3. Leader as connector and connected

  • Confidently, courageously and compassionately creates connections, and networks across differing and diverse teams, business units, fields and multiple disciplines
  • Maximizes opportunities to embrace diversity by sharing knowledge, skills and experience to create and invent ideas and solutions.

4. Leader as intuitive strategist

  • Letting go of what their subject matter expertise to sense and see operating patterns and emerging trends.
  • Making sense of novel inputs, perceiving and discovering new directions by making connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas.
  • Thinking outside of the box to create breakthroughs at the intersection of diverse disciplines & fields.

5. Leader as technologist

  • Understanding the scope and opportunities available for their organizations in the internet of everything.
  • Creating entirely new business models and revenue streams, both for startups and established companies that can leverage existing assets in exciting, profitable new ways.
  • Changing the basis of competition to enable them to compete as part of an industry ecosystem.

6. Leader as disruptive provocateur

  • Embodying the being and enacting the thinking states, innovative mindsets and generative discovery skills and practices to enable people to be, think and act differently to create breakthroughs.
  •  Fearlessly questioning, challenging and disrupting ‘what is’ to experiment with and taking bold and intelligent risks and embracing failures that generate improvements and learning.
  • Resulting in unexpected breakthroughs, paradigm shifts and innovative outcomes.

7. Leader as coach, altruistic and adaptive humanist.

  • Adapting to change and being able to sense and perceive from within the ‘whole’ system.
  • Providing innovation coaching to enable their people to become the best they can be.
  • Driven to make a difference by linking their individual and organizational stories to the ‘world story’ to create a more flourishing world in connected, compassionate, collaborative and equitable ways.

Can leaders (and coaches) learn how to be innovative?

Clayton Christensen, in The Innovators DNA, clearly established that innovators are both “born with a genetic predisposition and made through active endeavor”.

He describes howmajor research projects carried out on the creative abilities of identical and fraternal twins found that:
–      25-40% of what we do innovatively stems from genetics,
–      60%-75% of our innovation skills come from learning.

That “nurture trumps nature as far as creativity goes,” we first need to understand the skill, to learn it through innovation coaching, to then practice it, support us to gain the confidence in our capacity to create. 

So, if it’s possible in the world, it’s possible for me and for you, and conscious innovative leadership and innovation coaching are only a matter of HOW!

At ImagineNation™ we teach and enable executive coaches, leaders, teams and organisations to be provocatively competent. We enable them to facilitate intentional disruptions that safely open people’s minds and hearts in ways that rock the boat, expose the elephant’s and sacred cows in an organisation. This creates the space for organisations to see, identify and solve the real generative challenges in the way of current and/or future success.

Developing discomfort resilience 

People become aware of, and move away from their comfort zones, habitual mindsets, behaviours, positions, and repetitive patterns and develop their discomfort resilience. They learn how to be agile and playful, to improvise, create and generate innovative ideas and solutions in the emergence space.

Developing the art of provocative competence enables you, your teams and your organisation to:

  • Safely awaken people out of their comfortable myopia, cultivate creativity and ignite their entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial spirits.
  • Identify and let go of unprofitable products and services.
  • Spot, experiment and develop new products and services that customers need and want.
  • Derive increased revenue from breakthrough vale adding products and services.
  • Attain a competitive advantage from unexpected and trending business development ideas and opportunities.
  • Reap greater rewards from improved process and system efficiencies. 

We acknowledge that organisational cultures evolve and develop and cannot be transformed, and that there are no best or bad cultures. 

At ImagineNation™ we work with “what is” and plan to flip any negative energy into its most positive manifestation for the benefit of the organisation. We also acknowledge that every organisational culture has its own unique set of core characteristics and strengths that can be developed and leveraged to deliver innovative organisational outcomes.

To create an innovative culture where the art of provocative competence becomes part of the we do things around here follow these key steps:

1. Define the generative and provocative nature of the key challenges the organisation is facing or likely to face by developing:

  • Creating openings through retreat and reflection processes; to initiate new perspectives as to how the challenge can ultimately be resolved and transformed into an innovative opportunity.
  • Generative Challenge Skills; how to deconstruct issues by taking a whole systems perspective, considering global competition, instability and uncertainty, product and market analysis, cost /benefit analysis.

2. Encourage people to be curious, question and challenge the status quo and rock the boat and expose the elephants and sacred cows by enabling and rewarding new ways that challenge the process:

  • Giving permission for, and creating provocative creative conversations; that maximise creativity and diversity, encourage deviance and are intentionally disruptive, focussing also on identifying possibilities and removing the key structural barriers and obstacles that get in the way of effecting change.

3. Develop organisational capability to be provocative by developing:

  • Generative Inquiry Skills; how to deeply attend, listen, question, inquire and constructively debate to achieve high levels or meta thinking to generate imaginative and creative ideas and unexpected solutions.
  • Creative ‘right hand turns’ or inflection points; that transform the generative challenge into an innovative opportunity.

4Engage people’s hearts and minds by crystallizing a provocative vision and a passionate purpose for innovation.

5. Accept that failure is a natural part of doing business, allow people to fail small, fast and cheaply to create the safe space for mitigating risk by encouraging and supporting:

  • New learning opportunities through experimentation and prototyping.

What are the possibilities?

The outcomes include an increased capacity to:

  • Make effective entrepreneurial and business decisions to develop, stay or exit the market.
  • Stretch the boundaries of the business strategy and facilitate business regeneration and renewal.
  • An accelerated change to get to the future faster.
  • ‘Change the game’ and surprise key players with unconventional solutions and realization of hidden and future opportunities.
  • Facilitate a creativity, a collective focus and competitive advantage.

To ultimately thrive and succeed within an unstable and uncertain business environment with innovative products, models, systems, processes and services that customers need and want and that ensure profitability, sustainability and market leadership.

At ImagineNation™ we provide innovation coaching, education and culture consulting to help businesses achieve their innovation goals. Because we have done most of the learning and actioning of new hybrid mindsets, behaviors and skill-sets already, we can help your businesses also do this by opening people up to their innovation potential.

Contact us now at janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt and grow your business in the digital age.