Most organizations claim they want to innovate -- but what does “innovation” truly mean?
"Sometimes I think of innovation as just marginal incremental improvements, enhancements, and changes."
“Innovation is so critical for every organization, however, I think it's all relative to where that organization is. And so sometimes I think of innovation as just marginal incremental improvements, enhancements, and changes,” said Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Furman University.
He added, “When you think about just doing those marginal ones and if you can do those every day, every week, every year, over a period, you can have dramatic change and adaptation for an organization.”
Herrera joined Freedom Media Network founder Curt Mercadante to discuss his organization’s work, along with the future of entrepreneurship and innovation in America.
“What we think when we hear innovation or entrepreneurship is of big, technological advancements,” said Herrera. “That's not, to me, what innovation is. It's those incremental changes and once you build on those and you're constantly adapting and changing and growing, that's where you get that culture of innovation. When you find those leaders who drive that and understand that and are willing to make those incremental changes, you're going to see some transformation within organizations.”
What are the characteristics of an innovative culture within an organization?
“There has to be diversity. And when we hear the word diversity, we think of ethnic minorities, representation. That's one aspect, but there's also diversity of thought, diversity of perspective. And so there needs to be diversity present, there needs to be a culture of inclusion,” said Herrera. “The solutions to the challenges and problems we're facing today are going to come from diverse perspectives and individuals. You have diversity, you have inclusion, and then there has to be trust. And that trust means there has to be this ability that says, if I volunteer a solution to my leadership or my manager, and it fails, I'm not going to be reprimanded. I'm not going to be fired. I'm not going to lose the trust of the team.”
Herrera said an innovative organization is one that also empowers its individual team members.
“You can create a diverse team and not have any innovation occur and not have an inclusive environment. And so it's so critical that once you have a diverse team, diverse perspectives, diverse representation, you set the organization up to listen to those individuals and then empower them,” he said. “They're going to fail. And it's not being careless. I think a lot of times when we take risks, we think it needs to be careless, and it doesn't . It's about taking calculated risk. This idea of marginal, incremental change. And what happens is you start to build that trust. So when you do come in with a big idea or a big change, they're more up to say, ‘Hey, yeah, let's go with that. Let's go give it a try’.”
Watch Herrera’s full conversation with Mercadante by clicking here.