The 5 W's of Innovation: #TChat Preview

In business we’re always looking for trustworthy answers from leaders and employees, so why not borrow a method that’s worked well in another industry? Bloggers, writers, journalists — they learn a few things early on or along the way: how to write pyramid style, how to interview, the right questions to ask, and so on. There’s a standard set of questions: the who, what, when, where, why and how. It’s a simple approach with a little magic, and it usually elicits trustworthy answers. For this week’s World of Work #TChat, we’ll look at the five Ws that can lead to a culture of workplace innovation.

In any organization or workplace community, even one with a less-than-ideal culture, you can often find one person, sometimes more, who can contribute to a culture of innovation. That person might not be who you’d expect. It might not be the CTO, tasked with understanding the affects of technology, or the VP of HR, responsible for building and nurturing culture. A leader must be prepared to look beyond the usual suspects to find the person who can galvanize the organization to choose innovation. It might be the person sitting in the corner who never talks. Stay curious and listen and you may just find out.

Of course, innovation requires more than the efforts of one person; the organization (AKA Workplace Culture) must provide an environment with the conditions to spur innovation. Location, technical systems, and access to information, mentors and coaches rather than micromanagers — all are important. Innovation happens when the right conditions come together. This can be a very exciting and rewarding experience.

While leaders must be willing to create conditions to encourage innovation, and able to hire people with the skills to innovate, it’s not always a leader’s job to be the innovator. Sometimes you have to step back, stop micromanaging and let success happen, with a few deft nudges in the right direction.

Naturally, too, there are always obstacles to innovation. Some are cultural, some are organizational, and some have to do with timing. We’ll discuss where obstacles tend to crop up, and also what to do about them.

Finally, lots people believe you can’t have a culture of innovation without technology. I’m unclear this is true although it certainly fosters easier adoption. While we think technology facilitates innovation it seems unlikely to be the whole story.

And we haven’t even gotten to how!

So join us for this week’s #TChat on Wednesday, April 25, from 7-8 pm ET (6-7 pm CT, 4-5 pm PT, or wherever you are). Joining me (@meghanmbiro), as I moderate, will be Kevin Grossman, KC Donovan, Sean Charles, Salima Nathoo and Maren Hogan. Following is the list of questions that’ll kick-start our conversation:

Q1: Who among an organization’s many stakeholders can contribute to a culture of innovation?

Q2: What are the conditions that give rise to actionable workplace innovation?

Q3: When should leaders help bring together innovation’s bits and pieces – and when should leaders let go?

Q4: Where do teams and leaders encounter obstacles to innovation? Why?

Q5: How does technology help to facilitate workplace innovation?