1. Maintain and keep running your business
If you’re not even making improvements of your everyday tasks, you’ll at some point be out of business. You’ll be left behind as both competitors and customers are getting ahead of you. Of course, you need to run your business, but don’t stay in maintenance all the time. Remember to make improvements and keep evolving your organization.
2. Evolve your organization and grow your business
Moving your focus from Maintain to Evolve requires a shift in leadership style. Going from a process-oriented leadership style to a product-oriented leadership style making everyday changes. This means you should encourage your employees to exploit new opportunities, and release control and empower the employees, and facilitate the innovation process.
3. Turn your organization with strategic improvements to grow your business
This is where we ‘turn the direction’. Compared to ‘grow your business’, these activities have a higher magnitude of both gain and risk. Strategic improvements and innovative ideas are investigated, tested, validated, and evaluated. It requires a business-oriented and agile leadership style, as you’ll go fast and slow at the same time.
Fail fast, so we can learn and evaluate, and apply or throw away.
This is clearly a cultural change, through a change in methodology. The leadership style is one of the responsive leader, who encourages, empowers, engages, and enables everybody to take part in the strategic activities. We are seeing a far more agile approach to strategic innovation, involving and engaging employees, key influencers, talents and leaders based on meritocracy, instead of based on titles.
4. Jump with strategic change and transform your business
Transforming the business is where the really innovative – maybe even disruptive – ideas are explored and exploited. And this is where the business jumps to new patterns, markets, ways of working, and identity and image.
The leadership style in this area is far more proactive and progressive, taking more responsibility for freedom, engagement and adaptability, with a thorough and profound focus on collaboration with the customers in new ways that maybe aren’t defined yet. The leadership approach is cross-functional and diverse, based on a multifaceted view of the world.
What should you strive to obtain?
So where in the matrix are you – and is this the right place for you to be? Look at your current leadership style. What can you do to move from e.g. a process-oriented leadership style towards a business-oriented innovation style? What will that do to your way of leading?
Being aware of where you are in the matrix, as well as understanding where your focus is, will help you shift your mindset and figure out which type of leadership style you need and how to focus your innovation initiatives.
Staying too long in any of the four will make you stuck in a loop, which may drive you focus in the wrong direction. It’s about being able to shift when needed and drive your innovation spectrum to its right potential. You have a responsibility as leader.
And as the responsive leader, you should strive to obtain these three things:
- A shift in organizational innovation approach away from the default operation-oriented, linear and lean-oriented run-the-business towards almost anything else: everyday changes, strategic improvements, and transformational jumps.
- A culture of employees, talents, middle managers, and C-level leaders, who are courageous and committed to embracing innovation as a usual pattern of thinking and acting
- A personal approach of situational leadership, being able to consciously and deliberately shift between the four innovation areas when needed.