I have just begun the first course in the Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate and am very excited about it. The course is called Leading Innovation, and its goal is to develop leadership skills which will drive innovation. Professor Bob Sutton points out in the course introduction that there is a huge difference between leading innovation and managing routine work, stating one of the core goals of this course: How to manage creativity and innovation successfully.
The course will give a strong emphasis to honing leadership skills to drive innovation. We will learn about many interesting aspects of creativity and innovation, such as the intersection of ideas, concepts, and culture; embracing and learning from failure; learning how to build a talented and motivated team, as well as staying in tune with the people you lead. As an educator with an academic background in Anthropology, I am particularly interested in the intersection of ideas and culture. I hope to write more about that aspect as the course unfolds.
In module 1, professor Sutton interviews Perry Klebhan, Director of Executive Education at Stanford d.school and the inventor of the modern snowshoe. The core concept explored in the module and illustrated by Klebhan’s interview is the following:
CREATIVITY + IMPLEMENTATION = INNOVATION
Here are the lessons I learned from listening to Perry Klebhan.
To lead innovation, we must be prepared to:
Lesson 1: Cultivate a deep awareness that creativity alone does not equal innovation. The product or service is just one piece of a larger, more complex puzzle.
Lesson 2: Accept and work with the systemic nature of innovation, in that it entails creative work and all the activity that will generate a necessity or desire for whatever product or service you are creating.
Lesson 3: Apply creativity to designing a new product/service as well as to creating the experience that the customer/user will have when interacting with your product. The product itself is just a piece of the puzzle.
Lesson 4: Consider how people will interact with the product/service, understanding that this interaction is the key to implementation that leads to innovation. Experiment and engage in ethnographic work, observing people’s behaviors and attitudes towards your product/service. Ask yourself how people will own the product, and what impact it will have on their lives.
Lesson 5: Educate customers and partners around the experience you are designing and which is embedded to your creation. This is critical.
Lesson 6: Hone your interpersonal skills, for human connections are in the core of innovation. Look to observe and understand their needs, desires, even fears. That will directly impact the success of your creation.
Lesson 7: Know that innovation is complex, in that it takes more than the sum of two parts, namely creativity and implementation, in order to really take off. Adopt an observant stance towards nuances that will emerge in the implementation process, especially the unpredictable ones that will certainly spring up from the interaction of the customers and partners with your product/service.
I am looking forward to the next module, where we will discuss creativity and the differences between routine and creative work.
Do any of the lessons above resonate with you in particular? I’d love to engage in some meaningful conversation about this topic.