Leadership development

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Hacking the Innovation Process How to Encourage Teams to Think BigThe innovation process can be used in any business area to improve a product, service, or method, and like any other type of process, innovation can be structured and taught. Putting the brightest minds in a room together is a good first step, but without clear guidance about how to generate big ideas, their time together might not be as productive as it could be. Rather than waiting for a single light-bulb moment to occur, lay the groundwork that puts multiple great ideas on the table.

When trying to get the most from the innovation process, there are steps you can take to boost creativity and spark new ideas. On the other hand, negativity and fear can stifle the innovation process. Let’s look at both sides of the innovation coin and what you can do to invoke inspiration and shut out cynicism.


Enhance the Innovation Process

The innovation process can be improved by using methods like brainstorming, ideation, and reinforcement. A good team leader will also have skills that keep the group focused, move the conversation forward, and optimize the effectiveness of the team.


Everybody is familiar with brainstorming, but not everybody uses techniques to make it more effective. A typical brainstorming session starts with a single question and captures the responses. This process can certainly generate new ideas, but you can push innovation by using these types of prompts:

  • Let’s build on that idea
  • How can we reshape that concept?
  • What can we do to get other stakeholders to agree?
  • Let’s generate more great ideas like that one
  • How can we make that idea work?

They might seem like simple questions and comments, but sometimes all it takes is a gentle push in the right direction to get the team to open up and explore the idea further.

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Great ideas don’t always have to come out of thin air. Sometimes making improvements to existing products or processes can be just as effective as starting from scratch. Use some of the following words to spark a conversation about how to innovate with the resources you already have:

  • Combine
  • Substitute
  • Simplify
  • Stretch
  • Reduce
  • Exaggerate
  • Imitate

This process can also lead to other great ideas. When the wheels start to turn about how you can modify one thing, it’s not unusual for people to start thinking that way about other areas of improvement.

Watch out for Innovation Killers

Nothing kills the innovation process faster than fear. If participants are worried that their ideas will be considered stupid or impossible, they will be less likely to share their thoughts. Creating an environment of acceptance and support is critical to a successful culture of innovation. Of course, not every new concept will work, but unless the team feels free to think boldly, you could miss out on the next big idea.

Language that Causes Ideas to Languish

The early stages of the innovation process must be unfettered if you truly want your team members to think big. If they are constantly thinking about the practicality of implementation or the associated costs, the most innovative ideas will dwindle to safe suggestions. Avoid this type of language if you want to get the most from the innovation process:

  • We shouldn’t rock the boat too much
  • Just to play devil’s advocate…
  • It’s a good theory, but it’s not very practical
  • It’s too expensive
  • That never worked before

Whether or not they are true, these types of statements will stop innovation in its tracks. Sure, the original idea might be impossible, but by approaching it with a can-do attitude throughout the entire innovation process, the end result could be groundbreaking.

If you want to encourage teams to think big, give them the tools they need to succeed. Offer training to improve the innovation process and nip negativity in the bud to let new ideas flourish.


Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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A manager once told me that she knew nothing about leading people because she had spent most of her adult life as a stay-at-home mom. How wrong she was. As it turns out, she was a very strong leader because of her “mom” experience. It occurred to me then that if I needed a strong leader, I should find a great parent.

In business life, we are usually thrust into our first leadership role with little warning and even less training, much the same way that most of us find ourselves becoming parents. So, we learn as we go. My wife and I have raised three girls, and here is what I learned that applies directly to business leadership.

Parenting Leadershiip

Parenting Leadership

We begin with a group of very unique individuals, each requiring a unique style of parenting or leadership. Early childhood demands micro-management, quickly replaced by an ever increasing release of control. Soon, we find ourselves transitioning to the role of coach and eventually mentor. Each child requires a different style based on their gifts, interests and personality.

We must constantly decide which issues to overlook, and which to confront. We must allow them to fail, but never so badly that their spirits are crushed. We meter out their freedom to act, keeping constant open lines of communications. And just when we think we have figured it out, along comes a challenge that there are no rules around, and we feel that we are back to the drawing board.

Finally, we find out that we are finished, and we watch in awe as they surpass our expectations, and often our accomplishments.

Now, apply all you have learned as a parent to lead the people on your work team, and you will be a great leader.

About US:–

Eagle’s Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of team building and leadership development training programs. We focus on creating an experiential learning environment designed to achieve specific training objectives and create lasting behavior change.

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I suspect there are many different viewpoints on this question, but it does help to undertake to differentiate. Here’s my take.

Management is: Supporting others within the accomplishment of their tasks.

Leadership is: Supporting others within the accomplishment of their potential.Being a great Leader

When I “manage” I listen to things like articulating goals, measuring, monitoring, recruiting, and communication.

When I “lead” I’m concerned about defining freedom of action, making resources available, coaching, instructive expectations, working out strategies, promoting innovation, and things like culture transformation and talent development.

Both are important, and necessary, when you’re responsible for others among the business context. I think the really critical issue is to know when to “lead”, and when to “manage”.

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager which of the leader may well be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era mill likely didn’t have to give much thought to what he was manufacturing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and guarantee the job got done as ordered. The focus was on potency.

Too much management and deficient leadership can be constricting, stifling the potential contributions of your groups. They’ll still turn out (obviously), but probably not to their potential, and very possibly not even to their capability.

Too much leadership and deficient management can leave people feeling weak or overwhelmed, “at sea”, and without a solid foundation. In these circumstances actions and decisions may well be taken, but not be best when looked at through the lens of unforeseen circumstances.Manages vs leaders

In my experience, abundant of leadership is concerning “balance”. What is the right focus on any one thing, or competing things? For example, how much focus on innovation is appropriate? How much time should be spent on present needs vs. future opportunities? Resolving this balance at any point in time requires both experience and good judgment.

But with the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not simply separated. People look to their managers, not simply to assign them a task, however to outline for them a purpose.  And managers should organize workers, not just to maximize potency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

Applying the proper balance to the time we tend managing vs. the time we spend leading is key to optimizing our own effectiveness.

About US:– Eagle’s Flight is about sparking transformation.  We’re about creating flash points where change happens, where people are inspired to do their jobs better and lead more effectively. Visit us at http://www.eaglesflightindia.com

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