The Innovative Executive - Innovation as a Way of Life


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The Innovative Executive.
Innovation As A Way Of Life

By Dan Coughlin


As with any good characteristic of a highly effective executive, innovation becomes stronger as it is applied in every area of life as opposed to just "on the job."

Innovation is the process of identifying, combining, evaluating and implementing opportunities to add value to other people. Value is anything that increases their chances of achieving what they want to achieve.

Look at the different groups you interact with on a regular basis. Potential groups include your spouse or significant other, children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, church members, members of your community groups or associations, and people you meet for the first time. Apply the same process you do at work by asking the following questions:

  1. What does this individual or the members of this group want to achieve?
  2. What is keeping them from achieving their objectives?
  3. What can I provide or remove that would increase their chances of success?
  4. How can I combine my answers to question three in a way that will add the most value to them?
  5. Stop writing and move into action!

Mother Theresa was a classic example of this behavior. She identified opportunities to add value and moved into action. We can do the same over and over again.

Many executives today have aging parents who have their own special needs. These individuals no longer have the responsibility of raising children, but they have the need to feel connected to children. They no longer have the responsibility of making decisions on where their own children go or what they do, but they still have a desire to make an impact in their children's lives. The innovative person finds ways to provide their aging parents with opportunities to interact with children and to seek out their advice on important personal matters. This, of course, needs to be done in a sincere manner and not a manipulative way.

As of this writing, my daughter is 30 months old and my son is six months old. They have very different objectives. My daughter wants independence and the opportunity to explore new things. My son wants attention and to be held very tightly. Innovation requires finding new ways to meet their individual needs. Just as my client interventions require different approaches to add true value to each individual, so too does my parenting interventions. As I look at the questions above, I see that my daughter needs a variety of environments to explore. She also needs structure in which to have her freedom. Consequently, I need to continually provide well-structured and interesting environments that provide lots of freedom and safety. With these parameters in mind, I can create a large number of such environments even within our house and yard. That is innovation on the home front.

The more we hone the art of innovation away from work, the stronger it becomes at work!

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This page last updated on

08/01/08 17:31











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