The old way of describing innovation is a closed one. Innovation used to be reserved only for the techies, engineers, R&D officers and bosses. What’s the new way? Innovation is open for everyone and anyone who wishes to create new value in the societies. Inspiring?
Now, the way I understand innovation is about solving problems. The way I understand coaching is about developing others potentials. Therefore as an innovation coach I professionally help leaders develop their potentials to create new value by solving problems particularly in organizations and businesses.
Although innovation today is attributed mostly about technology and digital, I am one of the handful coaches with little technical background yet able to appreciate the function of both in today’s brouhaha of technology and digital transformation in organizations.
Humanizing technology is not easy. In many “tech” presentation you will be blown away by how simple the dashboard looks, how beautiful the visuals, how seamless is the experience from one point to another, how smart the data analytics and so on. Just a click, right?
No. Ask any techies that working behind those, it is not that simple. Don’t be fooled. Those work require deep expertise, endless nights of toils, large work streams and of course huge amount of investment. In an organization, the real challenge is when you need to put this in front of customers. To do that, the tech must be discussed over with other people such as the management, sales, marketing, finance, engineering, product, strategy and so many others. Issues ensued.
In the early days of Google, there was no manager. Engineers report directly to another engineer who is doing the work. It was a no-brainer to have an engineer to report to a project manager. What does a project manager knows about tech? Until the work becomes complex and large, they realized they need managers to work with the multiple streams.
Eventually, Google has managers. Additionally, they brought in coaches to help the project managers and top leaders lead. “Your title make you a manager, your people make you a leader.”
As an innovation coach, my focus has always be on pushing the limits of both leadeers and technology so they can co-exist and complementing each other. Here’s the three of the Cs as my focus of an innovation coach:
Very hard to do although a resounding yes when asked. Because there’s little appreciation of technology by other than the tech department, often collaboration suffered great defeat in many innovation projects. Coaching in this area nudged leaders to include working with multi disciplinary teams or reassigning some great minds to great project to make it work.
Innovation coaching helps leader to see the best minds as game changer, make time for empathic listening from stakeholders, find ways to develop faster prototype using low fidelity method and welcome nasty feedbacks that will definitely tear the project apart in some situation. Fail early, fail often as some says.
Do you realized that previously the digital world learn a lot from the physical world? Now it is overtaking the physical world to become “the” prime industry. Cross pollination coaching helps leader to experiment other successes in other industries and bring it to their own.
A simple exercise is to raise the awareness of engineers by asking them to attend human resources conferences and vice versa. Most of us tend to frequent our own kind, try attend a new conference from other industry and see what you will gain. PM me your learnings!
Seamless and connected digital services that many organizations trying to do today are dreams yet to come true. Possibly wild ideas and potentially radically different approach to their business models. Because of that, instilling confidence is crucial to leaders and their team members to try anyway – you either make it or learn.
However, a lot of questions about risks and rewards about their career come into the discussion. What if they fail? Will they still keep their jobs? How about personal reputation? Can they recoup their investment? What if they lose it all?
As an innovation coach, my work is also involve in instilling confidence with the top leaders to be change-ready. Just as the new language of transformation is experimentation, developing good enough products and services to be change-ready require mindset and culture shift in the organization.
Finally, to leaders, “repeating what you do everywhere is never a winning formula for innovation success. We thrive by trying new things”. With the right tools, good support and a sound method from innovation coach, we’ll get there together. Go coaching!