“We’ve entered a new era. Call it the age of imagination, ideation, conceptualization, creativity, innovation—take your pick. Creativity, mental flexibility, and collaboration have displaced one-dimensional intelligence and isolated determination as core ingredients of a competitive advantage.”
In his book OUT THINK: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes, author Shawn Hunter synthesizes a set of what he calls “truths in emerging innovative leadership practices” that help companies generate value in the form of innovative products and services. The volatility of the current economy—which he calls ‘marketquake’—demands that organizations become agile in order to survive.
In the book, Hunter explains a series of ten processes that comprise the ‘Out Think’ journey:
- Trust: In successful companies, trust is the engine of leadership. Leaders build trust through integrity, transparency and clear communication. They sustain energy and enthusiasm in others.
- Inquiry: Leaders provoke with questions, not answers. Creating a culture of inquiry sets the framework for new inventions, many of which come by accident. Optimism plays an important role in the culture of inquiry.
- Exploration: Innovation is hard work and must be carried through by true intention, using dogged perseverance and “grit.”
- Aspiration: Emulating heroes and role models leads to realizing your own aspirations. Leaders have a positive influence on their teams’ achievements.
- Edge: Praise effort and grit, not talent. Embrace new kinds of risk.
- Connection: To create a culture of innovation, leaders must first create a culture of collaboration.
- Mash-Up: Innovative leaders must be able to identify meaningful business trends, adapt them to their own market, and lead a team to execute solutions.
- Action: Get moving or accept the consequences. Innovation is creativity in action.
- Signature: Make it your own. A signature innovative solution is born of the core identity of those who have joined in the innovation journey.
- Purpose: Companies must provide products and services that the market sees value in. The most powerful motivating factor is a sense of progress in meaningful work.
Tim Sanders sums it up well in the foreword: “To truly harness innovation, you need to leverage a culture that will stop at nothing to fix bad ideas and stomp out mediocrity.”
The Product Management Perspective: The innovative processes described in Out Think fit nicely with product management. It’s no coincidence that entrepreneurial principles in leadership apply so cleanly to the work of product managers.