Innovation: Do you dare to dream?

by  Kim Jones

Is your business a breeding ground for innovation? How do you bring ‘water-cooler’ moments into your culture?

Dare to Dream

Dreams need to be shared, developed into stories from which ideas grow, be fostered and sponsored, so they have the chance to turn into practical solutions that can generate real sustainable returns for your business.

Dare, dream, do

Dreaming is an act of imagination, of exploring possibilities. For Whitney Johnson, businesswoman and award-winning stock analyst, dreaming is about disruption – daring to go against, or to think outside, the status quo. Johnson published a book in 2012 titled Dare, Dream, Do. The concept is simple: dare to dream, explore the possibilities available to you, and then execute those possibilities.

Daring is an important first step because we often find ourselves in a culture that stifles and discourages imaginative innovation. We lack confidence and do not always believe that our own voices are valuable.

As entrepreneurs, we have to dare ourselves to cultivate an environment in which our employees are encouraged to share their own ideas.

In other words, our businesses need to be able to support innovation systemically, and that starts by providing our team members with their own space to dream.

Activists and revolution

Management expert Gary Hamel frames this need in terms of a revolution: a model that supports change within an organisation. The outlook of each team member in an organisation should not always be perfectly aligned, as alternative viewpoints are needed for innovation.

A business organisation should cultivate activists, whom he defines as ‘loyal opposition’: dissenting voices maybe, but from those who are invested in the continued success of the organisation.

Activists must build their own point of view, which they can then deliver to their team as a manifesto—a reasoned but passionate presentation that will capture the imagination of the team.

His book, Leading the Revolution, offers further steps to bring about change within an organisation, from creating a coalition among team members, to choosing the appropriate people to target. These points are outlined in this presentation slide deck. The crux of his philosophy is that employees and team members are able to exercise their imagination and then strategically to execute it.

Storytelling and empathy

In tune with Hamel’s idea of the manifesto is Dan Roam’s Show & Tellphilosophy for presentations. Roam breaks it down like this.

How to make an extraordinary presentation:

  • Tell the truth

  • Tell it with a story

  • Tell the story with pictures

Like Hamel’s manifesto, Roam’s presentation relies on a unity of reason, passion and imagination. At the heart of this is storytelling:

‘When we tell a story, we make complex concepts clear, we make ideas unforgettable, and we include everyone.’

A story is the most effective way of conveying the concept or the dream because it’s the best way of getting others to imagine it. A story engenders empathy, the ability to understand someone else’s point of view.

Look again at Gary Hamel’s slide deck – in the case studies of successful companies who have fostered innovation – such as UPS, Charles Schwab and Cemex – the word ’empathy’ recurs. It recurs specifically in relation to customers and customer problems.

Storytelling allows us to imagine things from their point of view as well.

Reaping the benefits

‘Most of us have lots of ideas and ambitions, and are pretty good at executing,’ says Whitney Johnson.

‘But the daring, the believing that it is our privilege to go after something we really want – that’s harder to come by.’

As team leaders, we have to foster that belief in order to promote creative thinking and innovation. Successful, high growth companies encourage their dreamers and value their contribution – and their business reaps the benefits when, thanks to dreaming, new solutions take shape.

Call us on 0117 332 1002, or contact us by email for help with using visualization techniques to capture the stories unfolding in your business. Our experience ofinnovation, creativity and leadership coaching will build your confidence and help you to develop a sustainable framework for high growth. We love coffee in our business, so why not let us buy you one?

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