Six months ago, if you’d asked if I was innovative, I would have said “no”, which might sound strange since I work in innovation. My boss is innovative – ideas just flow – but that’s not me. I’m too busy. It’s not my role. I’m back office, membership, admin.
But then two things happened.
The first, was the Innovation Mindset workshop at our Hargraves conference. It was the end of Day 2, I was on ‘pack up’ and Allan said: “hey, if everything’s done, why don’t you sit in on this workshop. You can give us feedback.”
Simple, easy, not a problem. Until I found myself sitting at a table of six (nice even number) next to a member who I’d emailed many times but never really met. Opening the workshop, Allan said “think of a time when you did something that was innovative. Product, culture, process, anything at all” adding, “and share that story with the person sitting next to you.”
Obviously my reaction was panic.
I’m not innovative. How could I have an innovation story? But I couldn’t leave the room either. (Allan was possibly not my favourite boss at that point.)
I had five minutes to think. I had to find something both innovative and that I felt comfortable sharing.
And then I remembered our Participation Report. Something I’d set up years ago but had recently seen a way to improve that would highlight collaboration and the value of membership. A huge job but well worth the effort.
That was my story. A process innovation. It covered all the bases and got me off the hook.
And then we kept working through the mindset process. I started to analyse my story in a way I had never before considered – looking at my strengths, behaviour and actions.
I started to realise that not only was my story innovative, but that I had innovation strengths I could name. I was a creator, a doer.
I had contributed as an innovation team member, catalyst, employee delivering positive impact.
I reflected on my behaviours, creativity, proactivity, perseverance.
I had used innovation tools without even knowing.
I could pinpoint my level of innovation maturity. My official ‘Innovation Recognition’ level was ‘Supporter or Team Member’, an entry level innovator.
I could even identify my next level as an innovator and the strengths, skills and new tools which would help me reach that level. Through my newfound confidence, I could set my innovation goals, new objectives and identify new areas.
Conference over, I went home and raved about my epiphany. Next day, I returned to the office and a few hundred emails and work/life went on crazy busy as usual. End of story.
Or not quite. I did say two things happened.
The second was last Thursday, my six monthly performance review. With Allan, these are never quite predictable so I did some pre-review thinking which evolved into three new ideas.
And that’s what I went in with. Three ideas including piloting a major change of process; a minor change of process; and another small change that impacted peers. Things that I could have suggested at any time, if I’d thought about them, or understood that it was ok think about them.
All three were approved before Allan started to throw the mindset question at me again. “Think of a time when you did something that was innovative….”. Except this time I could stop him there. I had just given him three new ideas – and surely that was innovative!
End of story? Not quite.
The other day I was doing the housework, questioning something I’d always done and finding a way to do it better.
And that’s when it really hit me. I am innovative. I always have been innovative. I’ve done heaps of innovative things, especially around process.
Quite simply, Innovation Mindset gave me license to innovate.
It helped me realise that I am innovative and gave me the confidence to consider what I do and how I do it. Thinking differently is good – from a better process that will save time and reduce paperwork, to a better way to dust the skirtings, even challenging conventional thinking around coaching my daughter’s netball team.
They’re all ideas stemming from my innovation mindset and the strengths, actions and behaviours that I’ve learnt to identify and now have the confidence to use.
So next time someone asks me if I’m innovative, you know what my answer will be, don’t you?
Innovation Mindset Workshops will be offered during #How2 month. It’s a unique new program that can benefit anyone – from entry level innovators to leaders of innovation.
If you’re interested in finding out more or even hosting a Mindset workshop, contact me.
Written by Leisl Kimber, Hargraves Member Services.