Innovation Insights is a daily post on LinkedIn to help leaders strengthen those all-important innovation muscles over the next 30 days. Below is a summary from week 2.

Innovation is natural, but not common. Positive processes like entrepreneurship, collaboration, and innovation are natural, but not automatic. People generally have an inclination to make a positive contributions, but a lot depends on leadership and culture in order for it to happen. Give people the tools, let them know you want their input, and show you have the discipline to execute. Aspire to be the leader around whom innovation is a natural occurrence.

Dangerous Competition. Is your organization a “dangerous competitor?” In sports, people wonder what the top competitor is doing to prepare. They may be nervous about getting in the ring with them or lining up at the starting line.

What does your competition think about you? Is your organization one against which the competition feels comfortable competing against and feel they have a pretty good shot at winning? What are you doing that would make them feel a little uneasy?

If your competition doesn’t wonder what you are up to or irritated that you did something cool before they could, it is unlikely that you are innovative enough and not living up to the potential for your organization. We should not obsess about the competition, be we should be making enough waves to rock the boats of others.

Growth and change. Are you a TREE or a NUT? I use the Acorn Principle with leaders to illustrate the need to change in order to grow. The acorn becomes a tall, strong tree –not simply bigger version of itself. Who needs a 400 pound acorn?? Organizations also need to change to grow. Systems, processes, products, and methods that worked great once may totally inappropriate today. Take pride in what you once were, but do not hesitate to embrace new and different iterations.

All together now. To ensure Pixar retained its collaborative magic as it grew, Steve Jobs pushed the organization to “get under one roof” and create an environment for accidental collaboration. Due to the restrictions of Covid, many organizations are at risk of losing their creative magic too. While it may be difficult  to get everyone under one roof physically, leaders CAN get people under “digital roofs” to promote collaboration and keep people connected. There are tools out there that do this very well. Combined with leader coaching and team training, there is no excuse to not have a full pipeline of ideas to transform your business. Don’t wait and don’t make excuses. Your competitors (known and unknown) certainly are not.

Robotic. Tools like RECAPTCHA use simple tasks (like identifying pictures of traffic signals) to verify you are a real person and not a robot. What are you doing with your team to prove that you are more than a robotic leader? Do you show that you value their opinions? Do you challenge them to come up with novel solutions to strategic challenges? Do you engage in good conversations that make everyone’s ideas better? Habits like these propel and culture of innovation AND prove to people that you are more than a “bot” leader.