• Bill Christopher

From Strategy to Innovation

In an internal and external environment, characterised by rapid change, intense information flows, technological advancement, developing customer needs and socio- economic change, leaders face new and complex challenges which require them to be creative and innovative.

Innovation has always been at the heart of leadership but is now more important than ever. Many organisations can spend most of their time reacting to unexpected changes instead of anticipating and preparing for them. The solution is to examine the new role of leadership to create the architecture within the organisation to anticipate and lead change.

The skills and behaviours required by leaders are influenced by new perspectives on the nature of leadership and the connections between key leadership activities which lead to creativity and innovation in organisations. Most important is the connection between strategic thinking, reflective practice, critical analysis, and innovation. Leadership, today and in the future, increasingly require leaders to demonstrate these skills and to create the environments and the architecture for their organisations to participate in these processes.

Figure 1: A process of innovation in organisations

The nature of leadership is crucial to the development of environments which sustain creativity and innovation in organisations. The move from hero to host is important. leadership is a role in which everyone can participate. Empowering all colleagues to participate allows creativity and innovation to be emergent from every part of the business.

Strategic thinking enables the organisation to think big, deep and long. Do we understand how we interact and connect with other organisations and the external environment? How deeply are we questioning our ways of operating, our interpretation of the past and our anticipation of the future? How much do we understand the shape of our alternative futures?

Reflective practice is a core leadership skill. Every person and every organisation must learn from their experiences. The contribution of reflective practice is to continually question the "taken for granteds", and the "way we do things things around here". The leadership role is to ensure that the architecture of reflection is in place across the organisation.

Critical Analysis is the organisations ability to identify relationships between a wide variety of data, knowledge and experiences, to comprehend and express meaning to those experiences and to formulate hypothesis and courses of action. Events happen, trends emerge, do you fully understand the drivers of change?

Innovation and creativity is created through the interaction between strategic thinking, reflective practice and critical analysis and managed through effective leadership. the innovation engine in any organisation is driven by these elements. Creativity is encouraged through convergent, divergent and lateral thinking.

Figure 2: The importance of reflection, analysis and strategic thinking in innovation

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Bill Christopher

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