“Organizations don’t innovate. People do.” – M.Ditkoff

Author Mitch Ditkoff is a leading voice on innovation. In fact, Ditkoff recently was ranked as one of the top 5 speakers in the world on this subject. In a recent article, Ditkoff wrote about the “Four Currents of a Culture of Innovation.”

Through years of research and discovery, Ditkoff and his team identified the fact that if we want to innovate in our organizations, teams, or lives, we have to understand that there are four “currents” always at work and interacting with each other. These four currents are:

  • Top Down – Where leaders focus on developing cultures where innovation is made a priority. Vision casting from this position is vital. Teams have to feel that leaders understand the necessity to do whatever it takes to establish climates that enhance innovation. This current allows and requires leaders to put resources towards innovation while intentionally building cultures that seek innovation at every level and every minute. The norm – or good enough – can’t be accepted. The ultimate sign that this culture war is being won is when teams love where they work, can’t wait to come in and do what they do, and don’t operate from a “business as usual” posture.
  • Bottom Up – Everyone needs to desire innovation for this premise to work. Best ideas always win if they come from the “creative team” or the “finance team.” Ideas are the jump-starter of innovation. When everyone knows their ideas matter, it removes silos and empowers innovation to not just succeed, but thrive. When teams feel empowered to innovate and be creative, they don’t feel the need to wait around for leaders to permission creativity; they actually become champions for innovation, positivity, and change.
  • Outside In – Innovation doesn’t matter if it does not make an impact on our end users. Customers, attendees, contributors, and tribes have to feel the difference. If we don’t know who these people are, what they want, and have taken the time to learn how to respond to their needs, we won’t know how to innovate in a way that empowers momentum. Innovation without results that move us forward is not really innovation. We have to make sure we’re finding ways to include the end user in the process.
  • Inside Out – This is where we activate our teams based on their passions and desires. When we figure out what makes our teams click – what fuels and drives our teams – then we’re creating spaces where innovation can excel. When we do this, we move into a role of leadership and avoid management. Teams move and create out of passion not based on tasks.

When we find the right blend of currents, we empower people to innovate for their organizations.

As leaders we can help create clear paths for these currents when we identify and then equip each current to succeed. It takes intentionality and everyone buying into the plan. When this happens, we get to do stuff that is fun, exciting, and leaves an impact. It’s when we’re working but not going to work…and there’s really nothing like that feeling.

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