Are you Managing or Leading Innovation?


I like the statement – “Manage process and lead people”. But what about innovation? We still struggle to understand if it is process, or people mindset, or some combination.

We know innovation is a lot about exploratory action and Leadership that empowers action. There is still room for managing it particularly in corporate setting, which must manage risk.

Innovation Managing and Leading

Innovation, Managing, and Leading

There is a lot written around managing vs leading, as applicable to people, processes, and business. Some of that when viewed through the innovation lens, looks like:

InnovatorsInnovation ManagersInnovation Leaders
Solve complex problemsControl complexity in developmentTransform company, industry & ecosystem
Develop new products & servicesDeliver to the roadmapCreate vision, strategy, and roadmap
Create future they conceivePredict the future based on trendsPrepare for the unpredictable future
Deploy their expertise to resolve situationsOrganize, staff, and manage resourcesAlign expertise and offerings with markets
Create new outcomesPrevent negative outcomesPromote positive outcomes
Be creative and exploreControl creativity and experimentationEmpower people to experiment and learn
Develop their expertiseAssess the expertise and fill the gapsProactively fill gaps to required expertise
Build relationships of valueRe-structure to accomplish goalsCreate relationships to be highly effective
Do it the way they know bestDo it the right wayDo the right things
Defend their viewpointSell solutions to get everyone on boardAcknowledge & surface healthy conflict
Collaborate, learn, & produceMotivate but control collaborative practicesInspire collaboration and learning
Strive for excellenceMaintain a Center of ExcellenceBuild a Network of Excellence
Want to feel importantWant to look importantMake others feel important
Compete and collaborate as requiredCreate competitive strategies to winCreate collaborative strategies for win-win
Focus on Innovation Value ChainFocus on Innovation FrameworkFocus on Innovation Purpose and Mindset

In Summary,

An innovation focused organization needs all three roles – leaders, managers, and innovators. I emphasize the term ‘ROLE’ and not ‘TITLE’. I have seen CTOs actively engaged in technical discussions and engineers creating vision and collaboration with competitors for a win-win. 

A successful innovative organization allows a bit of all three across all its staff – from technician to the C-suite. That cross over through working meetings and casual chats, in person or virtual, promote sound teamwork, transparency and integrity, and internal empathy; so much needed to be adaptive and agile.

If you like this blog post, you will like my book series “Inspiring Next Innovation ….” available on Amazon and summarized in these book launch webinars on YouTube.

For Leaders

Inspiring Next Innovation Purpose,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube                               

For Innovators

Inspiring Next Innovation Value Chain,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube  

For Managers

Inspiring Next Innovation Framework,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube     

For Leaders

Inspiring Next Innovation Mindset,

Available on Amazon Watch on YouTube

To engage with the author – please register for upcoming virtual sessions.