People are:

  • Basically productive at work because they need to make money.
  • More productive at work when they feel like they are making progress (Read “The Progress Principle” by Harvard researcher, Teresa Amabile).
  • Most productive when they find meaning in the work.

ANY organization can help its people find meaning in their work. But as a leader, you must know a secret. One that can be uncovered by looking beyond this simplistic (but accurate) view:  Undeniably visible financial benefits arise from well informed innovation leadership efforts. We’ll prove this, and then share the secret.

Statistics Canada (and a gazillion other studies that prove what common sense should tell us) found that innovation is consistently shown to be the most important characteristic associated with success, and that innovative enterprises typically achieve stronger growth or are more successful than those that do not innovate.

In other words:

  • The enterprises that gain market share and increasing profitability are those that are innovative.
  • The universities that attract the best students and grow the best endowments are the innovative ones.
  • The government agencies that deliver the best service per tax dollar are the innovative ones.
  • The militaries that adapt rapidly and keep their personnel alive are the innovative ones.

According to research by Soo, Devinney, Midgley & Deening,“The greater the amount of innovation, the greater the market and financial performance.”

We’ve written about the ROI of training in creative process– at least 750% return on the training investment. And organizations with the best human capital practices get the best long term results. As evidence of this, it’s clear that companies that effectively train people in innovation skills provide returns to shareholders that are 3X greater than those of companies with weak or non–existent innovation training practices. This illustrates that investment in people is a predictor of a firm’s future financial performance. This idea is supported by researchers representing the Federal Reserve Bank, Georgetown University, and a money management firm.

The bottom line: innovation improves the bottom line. 

But that’s really just the little thing.

Innovation leadership has the potential to achieve our biggest, hairiest, most audacious dreams. 

The skill-set, mind-set and tool-set required of an individual who is expected to contribute to innovation in an organization – and, mind you, that’s everyone – has immediate transferability to the “rest” of their life: relationships, family, community. If we develop our employees to be better creative thinkers, more effective creative collaborators, and more steady innovation producers – in the service of our bottom lines –  we’re also developing them to be more effective human beings. And that’s where the engagement increase comes from: If you not only pay me, but also help me be a better person, I’ll give you an incredible share of my mind. And heart.

Meaning and Work 

Smart senior executives and wise HR professionals have realized some things:


That innovation requires a learnable skill set that is useful for everyone, from the newest hire to the senior most person, from the administrative assistant to the CEO.

As you train people to improve their personal innovation abilities, you are also working to improve their ability to work with people, their individual wisdom, and their emotional intelligence (which also is a key factor for improving the bottom line).

Our core assertion here, and the reason we do our work, is that improving innovation skills also creates better human beings. You just can’t drive innovation through an organization with close–minded, arrogant, non-communicative, uncooperative jerks.

Key point:

In this seldom spoken truth lies the powerful opportunity to address all of our human desires and challenges. Our three interconnected beliefs:

1. In order to stay competitive, every enterprise must improve its innovation ability faster than its competition.

2. In order to solve the complex problems we face in this world, we must innovate.

3. In order to innovate, we must improve as human beings.

These realities create an unprecedented opportunity for humanity. An opportunity that excites and motivates the people who are the company called New & Improved. You see, we are not in the business of fostering innovation just so one organization can beat out another in the competitive market place. Nor should you desire innovation just because of financial bottom line benefits.

We practice our craft because we want to create leaders who can improve everyone they lead. We want to see the innovation imperative play out as rapidly as possible in our culture because we know the only way to have continuous innovation in an organization is to strengthen….

The place that innovation always comes from:

Individual human beings working well with other human beings to build the productive, respectful, creative and energized relationships that allow new ideas to develop. 

So whatcha waiting for? Energize even MORE meaning at work for yourself by finding ways to energize an innovation culture for your colleagues to grow and thrive within. Keep reading here. We have your back. And that gives us meaning!

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