No innovation project ever started with a CEO whose secretary prints his emails! Technology is now so pervasive that todays leaders have to be comfortable using technology. Senior executives need to get out of their comfort zone and start to learn new technology. You can’t have an opinion on what makes sense until you have actually used some of this technology.
You don’t need to be a power user but if you have not used Tumblr, Snapchat, Tinder, Uber, Facebook it’s impossible to really understand the full potential of the digital age.
One of the banks implemented an internal social network simply because the senior manager refused to communicate with staff in any other way. While it may have been an extreme approach, it quickly gained momentum and now represents an effective and powerful internal communication tool.
Using these tools is the start for building a culture that fosters acceptance, curiosity and openness – all hallmarks of innovative companies.
This also means senior managers have to listen, observe and accept that ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes there is just no substitute for time and experimentation. Facebook and Google both had years of experimentation before they became the success they are today. If fact Google had reached the end of their funding just before they discovered Adwords as a tool to commercialise search. The rest is history.
There also needs to be a willingness to let go of a preconceived outcome. Experimentation is incremental but the final outcome is often unclear. Strengthening the organisation’s comfort with ambiguity and confidence in uncertainty enables innovation.