Why innovation within should come before innovation without
"I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organise a company. The whole notion of how you build a company is fascinating."
excerpt from p334 of 'Steve Jobs' by Walter Isaacson
When you read stories about innovation, and renowned creative companies like Apple, the focus is almost exclusively on the products they designed, the eye-catching release, the growth, the valuation.
The question asked less often is how the conditions were created to allow those innovations to come about - the culture, the values, the behaviours encouraged, the habits formed, the leadership style. Even Jobs - a highly product-focused leader - recognised that the way Apple organised itself was just as important as the development of new products.
Not every organisation can produce breakthrough products like Apple, but every organisation can look carefully and critically at how it gets things done, how it treats its people, and start its innovation efforts there.
Many of the companies I work with begin with the mistaken assumption that innovation is just about how you help your customers. When you refocus energy on how you operate internally, you uncover many barriers, frustrations and constraints that prevent people doing their best work. Resolving these leads naturally to more opportunities to do great things for your customers.
Getting more creative about how you work, and learning from the progressive and exciting models emerging - from Buurtzorg to Basecamp (and even PwC) - can give you insights and ideas on how to do things differently. Making positive changes will not only makes your team happier, but unlock energy and capacity which can be invested and directed towards customer-facing innovation, resulting in a win for everyone involved.
Maybe it’s time to look inwards first?