Where Leaders Come to Think


Innovation, Inspiration and Spooning


Sunday is a time of holy reflection. But a few weeks ago my friend, Pastor Eric talked about inspiration point. To be fair, he asked if anyone in the audience knows anything about inspiration point. Of course, I did because I didn’t really start going to church until I was married. But, there’s no way I was going to say anything. This is why I was surprised when several people helped him define it.

Eric said that inspiration point is the place you go to spoon. Thinking about that I have to admit I never spooned at an inspiration point. Maybe I should?

Clearly my mind was somewhere else thinking about God and spooning. I figure my friend must not have started going to church until he was married.  All of this talk about inspiration point got me to thinking about leadership and teams and a word popped into my head – Innovation.  I wondered if there was an “inspiration point” to organizational innovation. It’s a fair question, right?

Finding an inspiration point to innovation is the exact place organizational teams need to arrive at in order to become champions of innovation. I thought about what it took for me to build innovative teams and tried to create a formula. Maybe my version of Inspiration leading to innovation sparked by a point of motivation will help you to do the same.

The Four I’s in Innovation (Innovationii)

Sorry, I had to add the last ii so my acronym would make sense. Doesn’t it sound impressively Latin if you read it out loud to yourself?

  • Invite – In order to begin your trek to inspiration I have found that creating a culture of innovation is a must. We have to invite people to the innovation table because some people hate change. If you hate change – innovation will never occur. All innovative breakthroughs start with a team of people who have been invited and accepted the challenge. Building this kind of culture is tricky because you become like the people you surround yourself with. My friend Roger liked Duck Dynasty – so I started watching it. It is the same with innovation.
  • Intention – Once your team of innovators is in place it’s time to be intentional about directing the group to think differently. Innovative groups need to ask different kinds of questions and then try to answer them.   Instead of asking how can we make our product or service better – we need to ask, why do we offer this product or service in the first place? Why do we do what we do? Then when you get that answer you can ask – what would it look like if we didn’t’ know what we know and had to start over? Being intentional about the questions you ask the group will most likely lead to some interesting ideas. I think this is how Pixar does it – sitting in their office full of grass huts.

**Inspiration Point – This is the point at which innovative ideas are birthed. It’s when we can make-out at inspiration point and not get embarrassed. By inviting the right people to the table and asking the right questions your teams will have a fighting chance at reaching a place of sheer innovation.

  • Implement – Next, is the hardest part. Most of us think that if we have a great idea it takes off, and we don’t need to do anything else. It’s not true. Once we have an innovative idea, we need to create a plan of action and begin to implement it vigorously. Truly innovative teams spend a ton of time during the implementation phase of innovation. I once decided to try to build a culture of leadership. Something I felt was lacking in the industry I served. We created a University System and started talking about leadership. (We did this for years.) At one point, a teammate of mine said they were sick of talking about leadership. It was then that I understood we had implemented our plan effectively, and the message was ringing clear. The innovators loved it – the others grew weary and wanted to talk about the weather.
  • Ignite – According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary innovation is, “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods.   You see, innovation has a broad range application that will inevitably change the way we do business. – Think Netflix. Igniting means we need to share our ideas and processes with the outside world. Internal and external communications become very important in this process. We need to convince our teams and the world that this change is for the better. This is the CMO coming out in me. Marketers build the case for innovation, and tell a convincing story about it to the public.

The next time you find yourself thinking about spooning during church – give some thoughts to the four I’s of innovationii You won’t blush as much – and it may impact the world of business for the better.



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