Think You Don’t Know Much About Innovation? Think Again.

Not long ago my newly minted college graduate daughter asked me how to approach a task she’d been given by her boss. She was a human growth and development major being asked to gather and define IT system requirements. She was stumped.

Being a millennial she began by Googling. I suggested she think about how human development theories, models, and methods applied to gathering IT systems requirements. I had no idea if they did, but I was trying to give her a starting place using familiar mental maps.

Thinking about innovation is very much the same. Innovation is a business endeavor and academic study with a large body of theory, frameworks, models, methods, lessons learned, best practices. You might know some of it. You might know very little. It doesn’t matter. That’s what resources are for – Websites, books, training, colleagues, blogs, consultants, etc.

Here’s the good news: Innovation is tightly coupled with so many other major disciplines that odds are you will know something about several.  Perhaps many.

Undertake any innovation effort and you’ll encounter work from the following disciplines. You could no doubt add to the list.

  • Strategy
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Change Management
  • Decision making
  • Collaboration and conflict resolution
  • Psychology
  • Communication
  • Program and project management
  • Customer service
  • Public policy

These are general disciplines to which we could add HR, finance, accounting, big data, cloud, mobility – any area about which organizations innovate.

Innovation is so multidisciplinary that you’ll know more about it than you expect – maybe in surprising ways. My daughter helped design exercises to generate ideas about the new system by applying developmental theories of imagination to adult conversations!

Your knowledge and experience give you your familiar mental map as a starting place. If you’re open to connecting what you know to what you learn, you’ll expand your map and contribute effectively to your innovation effort. Best of all, you’ll lead by example.

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