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Innovative Leadership Insight

By Guest Author George Barbee

What if your Organization isn’t loaded with geniuses like Steve Jobs?

The bad news is that there are only very few people in the Steve Jobs genius category. The good news? There’s everyone else.

Most of us are far more innovative than we give ourselves credit for. In my experience, it is teachable and learnable—and that is very good news.

Throughout my career, I have observed people who could stretch themselves beyond their self-perceived limitations and attain a far greater level of Innovation than they initially thought they could. These observations inspired me to write 63 Innovation Nuggets (for aspiring innovators).

I noticed that innovation is a “WE” thing, not just an “I” thing. And that we must create and surround ourselves with a positive environment—and learn from one another.

No matter your position in an organization, a path toward innovation can start with the “Art of Observing,” which is Nugget # 19 in the book. Most successful innovators have a keen sense of observation—and it is this sense that helps them think and act more innovatively. Everyone has the ability to become a keen observer, so put yourself in “listen and receive mode.” Record your observations. Practice observing and taking notes daily if possible. Over time, your skills will improve.

The key is taking notes but also sharing and comparing notes with colleagues. We know through experience that this practice helps lead organizations toward overcoming what we call “thinkers cramp” in order to attain greater innovation.

After mastering observation, we can then discuss how to transfer observations (Nugget #23), across organizations, different categories, industries, and eventually countries. This is what innovative learning is all about: discovering these practical, experience-proven nuggets and making them one’s own.

So what’s in this for rising innovation leaders? It is re-enforcing for leaders to know that employees across the organization are capable, and that it’s simply a matter of encouraging, training, and unlocking it.

It is also essential for people in the middle of an organization to have access to top leadership and take the initiative to generate ideas and execute them.

This bonding from the “top down” and “middle up” leadership becomes a common thread in almost any size organization and in almost every industry.

The genius is there, sometimes latent, but it can be encouraged, discovered, and taught.

Make this a resolution: self-discover your innovative genius and bring it to your organization.

About the Author

Barbee’s 45 year innovative business career took him across 40 countries. As an entrepreneur, he founded 3 companies and worked with a number of Fortune 100 companies like Gillette, IBM, GE, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and PepsiCo. The common thread in his small and large company experience, as well as the last 15 years teaching innovation to graduate students at UVa’s Darden School of Business, is that innovation skills can be learned and taught.

More information on George Barbee as an author, speaker, and consultant is available at 

George E. L. Barbee: 63 Innovation Nuggets for aspiring innovators

This post first appeared on Coaching Tip: The Leadership, please read the originial post: here

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Innovative Leadership Insight


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