Turn on the television and chances are you’ll find a cooking show exploring how to take ingredients from the cupboard and combine them into a tasty dish.
Innovation is no different.
While the final product isn’t a delectable dish, the ideas that are created from innovative thinkers can lead to growth, Luke Williams said during an Executive Series session breakfast Tuesday, at the America’s Credit Union/World Council of Credit Unions Conference in Denver.
“Innovation is taking the ingredients we have and looking for a different arrangement,” said Williams, the executive director at the NYU Stern School of Business, a fellow at the innovation company frog, and author of “Disrupt.”
Leadership is about leading an organization through innovation, Williams said. While some may be hesitant to embrace change and new ideas, Williams said everyone should.
“Everyone in this room has a vested interest in growth,” Williams said. “If you have a vested interest in growth, you have to be interested in innovation, because innovation drives growth.”
Leaders should encourage those at an organization to think of new, bold ways to conduct business, Williams said. They also must understand that ideas—even if they’re not carried out and put into use—are valuable.
“You must treat ideas as items of investment in their own right,” Williams said.
In order to do that, Williams said there were three ideas that leaders need to embrace or expand in hopes of encouraging innovative thinking:
1. Perceptual scope, or the ability to see more opportunities. Often, credit unions have a case of expert inflexibility because they’ve been doing the same tasks the same way for years.
While there may be efficiencies, Williams said that mind-set also blocks the view of some opportunities for innovation. Credit unions need to break through these barriers–or patterns of perception–and allow creative insights to develop and be explored.
2. Conceptual scope, or the ability to see new ideas. Leaders will often dismiss a new idea because they fall into the “this is the same as” line of thinking.
Williams said it’s vital that leaders fine-tune their judgment and not lump new ideas into the same category as existing ideas, rather judge each idea on its own merits. “Nothing kills a new idea faster than common sense."
3. Experimental scope, or encouraging employees and others involved with the organization to try out more ideas and take risks. While there’s always the fear an idea will fail, Williams said that fear shouldn’t hold people back.
“There’s never been an economy that has rewarded innovation more than the one now,” he said.