Being an innovator: “…you’ve gotta use what you got, to get what you want”



 “… the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may well do well under the new.” (Nicolo Machiavelli: 1469 – 1527)

You have ideas; you have developed your profile and position in the team; but do you know what is required to change the game?

Let’s start off by being absolutely honest here, transformational change is not easy. Moreover, you having a smart new idea, does not mean that you’ll be successful in leading a project and changing the game per se.

Perhaps you don’t need to lead the project. Perhaps to be able to change the game everybody, regardless of their role or level, needs to be involved and contribute collectively to the game-changing activity.

So with your collaborative mid-set and your great idea, here are a few pointers to help you develop your own approach. At the very least if we reflect on Machiavelli’s observation these pointers might help you start to build some momentum with those you need to connect and collaborate with to bring change about; and at the same time reflect your positive impact and the importance of your role in the organisation.

1. Understand your impact

In order to make a lasting impact in your organisation you need to understand how you contribute. People tend to make their contribution apparent in three key ways:

  • Having an opinion and developing ideas;
  • Competently carrying out your responsibilities; and
  • By being a ‘face’ a go-to-person.

2. Understand the value you will bring

It is also important to consider both what your boss and key stakeholders in your organisation value:

  • How will your idea sit with your boss’s remit?
  • What are you working on that will support your organisation in achieving its goals?
  • How can you get your colleagues to help you?
  • Discretionary effort from others is hard to get let them know what’s in it for them!

3. Understand your strengths

Know your strengths. Everyone has something to offer. What is on offer is difficult to see straight away; everyone is different we are all individuals and not everyone will see things and perhaps do things your way.

Are you in the right job? If you know your strengths and feel you are a square peg in a round hole; find a position which allows you to do what you do well. This is really important because working in a role that plays to your strengths will help you make a meaningful contribution.

4. Understand your role

Successful change programmes do not just centre on the idea generator. Everyone who is in a position to help contribute to the goal has an important role to play in making the change happen. So think like the NASA bathroom attendant! When asked what he was doing he replied “I’m helping put a man on the moon” – well as the story goes. But it is true that everyone from the lavatory attendant to the CXOs all have an impact.

So you really do need to know where you fit in? How is your smart idea aligned to the corporate strategy? How will you tangibly contribute to the vision, mission and objectives? How can you sell the idea?

5. Know who to build relationships with

We all have relationships, as we need to interact with others for all sorts of reasons. Work is no different; and getting to know other people, build alliances, understand what they do, where they make an impact and so on, will increase your opportunities to bring in the right people when required to support your ideas.

Now is the time to focus on collaborative working and start to look at how you can work with others to make your contribution and ideas have real impact. Anyone can make a game-changing contribution it just depends on how you go about it. Innovation is a collective effort and the more people you can get on side early, the more likely you are to succeed.

Gerard Chick is Director of Intelligence at the Skanör Group. 

Follow Gerard on Twitter @GerardChick. He recently won a prestigious procurement and supply management literary award, Les Plumes des Achats Grand Prix ACA Bruel 2015, for his book, Procurement’s Value Proposition: The Rise of Supply Management, which was co-written with Dr Robert Handfield.

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