How coaching can foster managerial innovation

CoachHub · 10 May 2022 · 4 min read

The wheel of innovation never stops turning. Organizations can either adapt to the changes or fall behind the competition. Innovation managers, uniquely positioned to facilitate the organizational transformation necessary for innovation, are more important than ever. The following explores this critical role and the techniques critical to their success. 

  • PwC’s 20th annual CEO survey found that while innovation was the most important concern among respondents, 77% of CEOs experience difficulty sourcing creativity and innovation skills. 

What is innovation management?

Innovation management is the set of practices, tools, and institutional philosophies that an organization leverages to support creative iteration. 

  • Innovation Framework: Innovation management strategies are articulated to coordinate teams around common goals, mindsets, and methodologies.
  • Innovation Practices: Applied to create new and improve upon existing ideas, products, business models, and processes.
Managerial innovation with coaching

What does an innovation manager do?

Innovation managers are responsible for enabling innovation. 

  • A unique role: Innovation manager is a role that travels under a variety of titles. These specialists are not in charge of innovating, but of facilitating the innovation process for their teams and organizations. Their responsibilities encompass: 
    • Creating a culture of innovation – common values and practices that encourage team members to explore new possibilities and take chances. 
    • Promoting and facilitating the innovation process by removing barriers, dealing with procedural requirements and red tape (e.g., patents and property rights), and managing project pipelines (concept development; business plan; solution development and iteration; prototyping; implementation and marketing) 
    • Positioning the organization and its teams to take advantage of future opportunities and react to future risks. Innovation managers need to keep their fingers on the pulse of innovation.
  • No handbook: Innovation managers operate in bespoke circumstances. Organizational idiosyncrasies and the transformative nature of innovation creates a constantly shifting goal post for how to manage innovation. This demands a similarly adaptive approach to empowering innovative teams and their leaders.

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Techniques and tools to empower management innovation

An organization’s capacity to innovate is deeply influenced by its culture. Organizations that want to innovate need to create a culture that empowers and celebrates exploration while managing its practical and emotional risks. The following are some techniques and tools that can facilitate the organizational transformation necessary to cultivate innovation. 

  • Embracing uncertainty: Leaders must recognize the uncertainty that shapes their organizations and their colleagues’ professional and personal lives. 
    • Establish the leader’s role as a port in the storm.
    • Create a space where team members can freely and openly express their ideas and apprehensions. Leaders need to be active and empathetic listeners
    • Necessity is the mother of invention: Reflect that innovation often comes as a reaction to trying circumstances. 
    •  Encourage a culture where temporary failure is accepted as a natural part of taking risks on the road to eventual success. 
    • Be an accountability partner, providing the support and structure to keep teammates on track.
  • Building common ground: Innovation creates opportunity, but change can also create confusion. A 2019 McKinsey survey found that 84% of transformations fail because of interpersonal disconnect. It’s critical to build a common vocabulary of organizational values and practices to ground leaders and their teams. 
    • Case Study: unyc – Individual coaching sessions focused on building a common framework for accelerated growth by developing and perpetuating managerial praxis. 
      • Establishing core values – Leaders model and promote the core values that form the bedrock of the organization and its practice. In a sea of change, these values are constant. They represent the North Star to guide employees from iteration to iteration. 
      • Aligning on strategic vision – Leaders should articulate a roadmap that guides stakeholders from conception to execution. Leaders should also be prepared to adjust these roadmaps as conditions change and based on the learning styles and leadership needs of their teams. 
      • Equipping managers with tools <describe and illustrate>
  • Collaborative leadership: Innovation thrives through collaboration. Leaders must cultivate an organizational structure that promotes collaboration. Flat organizations and bottom-up approaches to leadership enfranchise employees, amplifying their voices and motivating their work. 
    • Case Study: B.Braun – “shop floor empowerment” flat, bottom-up approach to production floor leadership.
      • Agile methodology – Engage employees by giving them ownership in every stage of the process. Braun encouraged a culture of autonomy that removed supervisors from daily operation and put control in the hands of those most involved in the day-to-day work. 
      • Leadership training for all – Digital coaching makes leadership skills available to all employees. Coaching sessions provided the space for employees to explore their own management styles and to reflect on the styles of others. 
  • Leveraging digital transformation: Integrating digital technologies to create or modify organizational culture, businesses processes, and employee and customer experience. 
    • Curated communication: Communication technology can help create personalized messaging and curated content to bolster team cohesion and employee engagement 
    • Agile and adaptable pedagogies: Leaders can teach and reinforce these techniques through innovative and engaging learning methodologies that adapt to learners’ preferences, goals, and contexts.
      • Adaptable teaching methods for different learning styles
      • Teach technical and soft skills that resonate with personal interests and market opportunities 
      • Recognize and strive to accommodate different schedules, commitments, and processes
        • Work from home, hybrid, in-office (w/ commute)
      • Innovative digital pedagogies
        • Gamification 
        • ATAWADAC strategy 
        • Collaborative learning

Digital coaching, innovation management, and organizational transformation

Innovation management necessitates management innovation. Leaders need to embrace progressive approaches to employee engagement, management structures, and transparency in order to stay on the cutting edge while retaining organizational cohesion. Leveraging current technology to meet this demand is essential. 

  • Digital coaching offers adaptable, personalized, and accessible professional development for employees at all levels. 
  • Investing in employee professional development and wellness is a proven means of improving engagement, affinity, and performance. These employees are ultimately key driving the organizational transformation noted above. 

CoachHub’s Position: Innovation is driven by continuous learning. Digital coaching solutions are well positioned to empower innovation managers to create environments that promote continuous and daring exploration.

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