July 2019 | Nano Tools | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributors: George Day, Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor Emeritus, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management, The Wharton School; Gregory Shea, adjunct professor of management, senior fellow at the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management, The Wharton School.
Grow sales faster than your industry rivals by articulating a growth-affirming innovation narrative and relying on four powerful levers to make it a reality.
Bringing a growth-affirming innovation narrative to life (see Part One of this Nano Tool to learn how to create one) can be complicated, if you listen to the current literature on innovation. It recommends up to 18 different levers to pull, such as investing in a systematic search for ideas, opening up the innovation process to partners, conducting postmortems, and changing your governance structure. Attempting to pull this many levers at a time is a prescription for failure in any change initiative, but without a clear sense of what really works, you may be tempted to try a little bit of everything.
In our study — in which we interviewed 25 innovation leaders and surveyed 192 senior executives, directors, and innovation practitioners from diverse global companies — we found that only four of the 18 levers consistently and significantly set organic growth leaders apart from growth laggards and average performers. These four (and their associated behaviors) — described in the Action Steps below — can support a clear, compelling, growth-affirming innovation narrative.
In 2013, Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals hired a new president and CEO who was dedicated to innovation and organizational transformation throughout the 194-year-old institution. When Dr. Stephen Klasko arrived, he enlisted roughly 1,000 employees in the development of an organizational narrative that put innovation front and center: “We will innovate to bring care and caring to where the patient is. We will become an entrepreneurial health organization, bringing creativity, passion, and flexibility along with the more traditional academic medical center skill sets of strategy, focus, and discipline.”
Here is how he pulled each of the four levers to bring the narrative to life:
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, director of Custom Programs at Wharton Executive Education. Nano Tools for Leaders® is a collaboration between joint sponsors Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. This collaboration is led by Professors Michael Useem and John Paul MacDuffie.
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