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Becoming An Innovation Champion 

Common Traits of Changemakers and Innovation Champions

Organisations can be very resistant to change, inertia is easier and feels safer. However, new ideas and innovation are the lifeblood of any organisation that is going to grow and thrive. A new idea, no matter how brilliant, will invariably face opposition. 

If you want to be your organisation's champion for innovation, you need to develop specific skills. Promoting ideas as a leader or entrepreneur isn't easy. There will be pushback, silos, and obstacles to overcome. 

All of the people we work with who truly succeed with their innovative projects have some common traits. 

 

Trait 1  They have credibility  

 

Many good ideas are thwarted in organisations because the person presenting the idea lacks the credibility to be a champion. It is essential for you to be credible if you want others to buy into the idea. People can't just take your word for it; they need to believe you can do the job. 

You must show your expertise, demonstrate that there are opportunities for action, use your position of authority, and show your integrity. By proving that you are capable of these four things, you will win the trust of others.

Trait 2  They know who’s on their team

Like politics, having a small group of committed supporters is important. You need to find this group, expand it, and provide it with limited resources and time. There is no guarantee that your allies will stay on board, even if they are core supporters. While some opponents of your proposal may disagree with it, with the right tradeoffs they may become your most ardent supporters. An innovation champion always knows who is in their corner and works diligently to keep it that way.

 

Trait 3 A Sense of Timing

It is important to choose the right time to publicly support a new idea. As soon as you announce or imply your endorsement, there is no turning back. In the face of opposition, you cannot hold up your hands and say you were joking. Leadership doesn't look like that.

Make sure you don't bring your ideas to the team until they are formed, especially if you're not sure whether you'll pursue your idea all the way. If you don't follow through on your commitments, you will be tarnished as someone who lacks credibility.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. This is especially important when it comes to product development. You may be perfecting your prototype while your competitor prepares to launch. Be sure that you are ready to launch your campaign, but don't wait for the ideal moment. It's like having a baby; there's never a perfect time.  

Trait 4 They predict what the naysayers will say

According to Aristotle, "one can easily avoid criticism by doing nothing, saying nothing, or being nothing." Without disrespect to Aristotle, refusing to take action may not protect you from criticism. If you do not act, you are likely to be criticized. Leadership entails criticism, and we have no choice but to accept it. Be prepared for what your critics will say, and don't let them take you by surprise.

Prepare yourself like a Scout! You should prepare rebuttals even for outlandish arguments before pitching your idea. 

 

Trait 5 They build the case 

You have an idea, and you know it must be executed. You need others' support to make your idea a reality. What are the best ways to sell your idea? How do you frame your idea in such a way that people want to join?

Four approaches are available to you:

  • Back up your arguments with analytics, numbers, and projections.

  • Your competitors are adopting ideas like yours, so your business needs to stay on top.

  • Make the case that people expect it of you or your team.

  • Indicate that regulations or future protocols will need your idea to be accepted.

Even as an entrepreneur or CEO, you can't simply introduce an idea and expect people to adopt it. You might convince your employees, but then your customers and supplies will need some convincing arguments. Build these 5 traits to get the most out of your innovative ideas. 

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