The Role of Support in Innovation

The Beatles’ song made legendary by Joe Cocker speaks of getting by with a little help from our friends. The role of friends — associates, collaborators, trusted allies, partners — is vital to making innovation happen.

The myths about change-makers and innovators are many: The self-made woman/man, the great innovator, the great mind who works long and hard to succeed because of their own cleverness or ingenuity, the entrepreneur who transforms a market all by herself, a leader who takes an organization to new heights. Take your pick.

However, the evidence is clear: you need supporters to succeed. Whether it is early-stage support for ideas and potential or to deliver the finished product, support is critical to innovation. This was the topic that we recently covered on the latest episode of Censemaking: The Innovation Podcast.

Look at the list below and you’ll see that most core items involve some kind of support mechanism either through teams, senior leadership, or markets.

Three Lessons for Support Generation

There are three core lessons from the literature on what to do:

  1. Find a tribe, build a community, join in with others. Whatever it takes, connect with those in your market, outside your market and those you wish to serve. Engage.
  2. Be a friend to have a friend. Share ideas, lessons learned, and assist your community however you define that. We see time and again that the best organizations are known and respected because they give from themselves. That also ensures that they receive just as much. You’re much more likely to attract the kind of knowledge that you need, the skills that you need when you share the knowledge and skills that you have. Creating a connected community of people who ‘get’ you is important.
  3. Leave the heroes to the comic books. Heroes make for great stories, but really lousy, real life models for change. What you need is a supportive structure. Mastermind group leadership teams, peer meetups – they all make a difference in reducing isolation and increasing the amount of contact points you have so that you can generate ideas and do so in a group that understands you. These can be internal or external — but they must allow for support to be gained and received.

You can’t do it alone. Find ways to connect with others who are doing something similar to what you’re doing, that support, which will be different for everybody, but that difference makes all the difference.

If you want to build a strategy to create connections within your organization contact us — we can help. We can also help you build the kind of internal structures to learn, share ideas, and innovate.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

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