Have you ever noticed that innovators talk really fast? It seems like the ideas are flooding their brain 3 times faster than the mouth can talk…or than the listener can process. Sometimes, before you can ask a question, they are on to another idea.

Those who excel at innovative processes tend to talk slower. Their brains are translators – taking an idea and figuring out how to make it a reality. They tend to be good at improving the process. They see things that could be done better, faster, cheaper.

Leaders tend to be really good at one of these skill sets. It is probably an innate talent that helped them rise to leadership positions. Then they ask their team members to be innovative or to create duplicatable process or improve current process. When it doesn’t happen, they don’t get it. It is so natural to them. It turns out that most people are not very good at it.

It can be taught.  The age old Socratic method – asking questions, not giving answers, can stimulate innovation. Here is a start: if there is one thing that could be changed to make it easier for you to do your job, what would it be? Let’s break that down.

  1. It assumes that things can be changed.
  2. It assumes that you are interested in making their jobs easier.
  3. It assumes that you believe they might have good ideas, and could be creative and important to the organization.

This could bloom into a regular practice of continuous improvement – beginning with brain storming around what could be improved, then picking the 3 ideas that have the greatest value for the organization and innovating there.

Over time you can teach the whole organization to innovate processes. You will also see who has the innate talent and mentor them in a skill set that comes naturally to them. Truly a win-win.

If you are not a subscriber to BIZPIE blog, you can subscribe here. If you want to learn more about Vistage, click here.