The Language Of Innovation

"Innovation" is one of those buzzwords that every company uses to inspire ideas in employees and instill in their corporate culture. C-suite executives flock to the concept of innovation and frequently encourage workers to think outside of the box, but many organizations don't realize that the language uses to communicate with their employees could be holding them back from reaching their potential. 

For example, the language of commands is very straightforward. We have words to give direction to workers, communicating goals, expectations, and strategy clearly and concisely. When things need to get done, the language of commands is easy for both workers and leaders to understand and respond to. But to build and nurture a culture of innovation within your organization, a different lexicon is required.

The trouble is that not everyone has the same ideas of what innovation means. Ask two people to define the word "innovation" and you will likely get two very different answers. The concept of innovation and the rhetoric used to describe it are fluid, nuanced, often speaking to ideas and potential, rarely speaking to commands and quanitiative evidence. To cultivate a culture of innovation in your organization, you must change the language you use.

Organizations wax poetic about their commitment to innovation and press their employees to be innovative, demanding innovative output. More often than not, such organizations fail to come up with any novel or groundbreaking ideas. It isn't enough to say to your employees "be innovative, think outside of the box, be creative". These are commands that reinforce a corporate hierarchy, rather than inspirational speech that instills the concept of innovation without explicitly demanding it.

The very nature of innovation eschews the language of commands. If you are commited to cultivating a culture of innovation within your organization, you must adapt your speaking to communicate a true understanding of the concept, inspiring your employees instead of ordering them. 

Keeping an eye on the prize of profitable new ideas, many organizations forget that embodying innovation means embracing the concept fully, and that starts with the way you communicate. Here are four major keywords that will help get you and your employees on the same page in regards to thinking about innovation:

1. Empathy
Put yourself in the shoes of the customer to think about how you can build a better product

2. Relationships
We see the world through the lens of our mental associations - the more you train your brain to focus on relationships and how everything connects to each other, the bigger you see the world. 

3. Network
This refers to the way great ideas spread through communities, knocking down potential barriers that might deter an individual from thinking innovatively because of the fear a new idea wouldn't be received well. 

4. Collaboration
Adjust your language and communication in a way that promotes harmony and teamwork. For example, saying "what if we did this instead?" is likely to attract more collaboration than "this won't work and here's why."

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