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The Buck Stops Here - 10 essential tips for leading innovation

June 22, 2018


Canada is often rated as a poor performer related to innovation. Numerous reasons are often blamed for this; lack of funding, lack of tax credits, the Canadian “polite mindset”, not enough skills being developed within the education system…the list goes on.


It is tempting to blame others for this poor performance – but at the end of the day, we all need to take ownership for making innovation happen within our organizations. The ROI for innovation hangs together, even without outside support.

As owners and leaders of business in this great country of ours, it is our responsibility to create cultures in our organizations that unleash innovation. By focusing on the things that are directly in our control we can speed up the innovation process within our organizations.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower
- Steve Jobs

As a small business owner/leader, I take responsibility for the growth of the business and the buck stops with me. Yes, we have an incredibly talented team that makes it all happen but the strategy and top priorities come from the top. Innovation is at the top of our business strategy.

We are continually looking at new and better ways to serve our clients to help them succeed. Innovation helps us do this. To innovate means to grow your business, without waiting for other support systems to make this happen for you.

Based on the work we do with leading Canadian organizations, and based on my own experience with running a company, I have found there are 10 essential tips for leading innovation:

1. Link innovation to your strategic plan

2. Implement a process/system for innovation just as you do for other critical business systems/processes (sales, HR, operating systems, customer service, etc.)

3. Train your people in the “how-to”s of innovation

4. Mentor/coach your leaders to remove the roadblocks for employees to innovate – if they are the roadblocks, remove them

5. Allow time for implementation, testing and change

6. Promote rapid “fail fast, fail cheap” cycles of getting things done

7. Create key measures of success

8. Celebrate success – and learn from failures

9. Get out and talk with customers, include them in the conversation early

10. Create your own innovation community – share lessons learned with other organizations, education partners, suppliers, industry associations, local start-up groups, government agencies, etc. Organizations can thrive from the support of an alliance with a common goal.

As we make our organizations more innovative and accelerate growth and competitiveness, we make our communities stronger. We all have a role to play in making the innovation ecosystem in Canada the best in the world.

I believe, as leaders, we can have the biggest impact by creating strong, fired up teams focused on doing cool sh*& that matters. Let’s go.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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