You and the leadership team have developed an innovation strategy for your organization that you consider clear, clever, and future-oriented, but somehow it’s not gaining traction and you’re not getting anything like the expected return on your innovation investment. Reviewing this with middle management, you discover that they have a very different understanding of the strategy and don’t feel able to make changes to the system with which the organization is run. What went wrong?
Leaders often struggle to communicate clearly about innovation, both inside and outside of their organizations. As we explore in our new report, telling effective stories throughout the five phases of the innovation lifecycle — ideation, proof of concept, assessment, scaling, and commercialization — helps business and technology leaders ensure success.
How To Apply Leadership Storytelling To Drive Innovation Success
The innovation lifecycle is demanding. Leadership storytelling offers tools that help get people moving forward, keep the team engaged, and reinvigorate when project teams stumble. Successful innovation requires passionate leaders with a collaborative mindset, good communication skills, and the curiosity and willingness to experiment. As you think about your own approach to innovation, make sure that you consider the why, the what, and the how:
- The why: inspiration, leadership, and purpose. Share your vision to inspire others and get them on board with the innovation agenda. Empathize with the people you’re innovating for, and share what inspired you to come up with the innovation to make you, your story, and your final product more relatable.
- The what: culture. Establish an innovation culture to turn good ideas into tangible business outcomes. Empower employees to contribute their own ideas, collaborate, and take calculated risks with innovation. Don’t forget to collect stories about sparks of creativity to build momentum around innovation in the organization.
- The how: trust and creativity. Unlock creativity with trust. If employees regard a leader as too distant or harboring some hidden agenda, they’re less likely to trust them. Identify your core values and craft stories around them. Storytelling expert Jean Storlie recommends that you “speak with your own authentic voice about real and meaningful stories. They convey who you are and why you have credibility to lead the change.”
To learn more about how you can use leadership storytelling to drive innovation success, read our new report. As always, if you have your perspectives to share, please schedule a briefing and tell us all about them. If you’re a Forrester client and want to discuss (or challenge) our thinking on this topic, please schedule an inquiry.
(written with Hannah Jachim, research associate at Forrester)