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How to lead change across a new innovation organization

Some organizations manage transformation better than others. Here’s how to ensure you lead organizational change the right way.

How to lead change across a new innovation organization

Change is an inevitable part of any organization's long-term journey. As technology advances, consumer demands shift, and the market evolves, businesses must adapt and transform to remain relevant and competitive. However, directing that process of change towards the outcomes you want to achieve can be challenging.

With the right mindset and approach, it’s possible to lead change successfully by overcoming these challenges and firmly establishing a culture of innovation that propels your organization forward.

1. Clearly define the vision

The first step in leading change is to rigorously define your vision for the organization. This vision should be aspirational, inspiring, and succinct, and should provide a clear sense of direction for all stakeholders, including employees, investors, and partners.

  • When defining your vision, consider the following questions:
  • What is the ultimate goal of the organization?
  • What problems are we trying to solve?
  • What kind of impact do we want to have on the world?

By answering these questions, you can create a vision that is both ambitious and practical.

According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, 70% of employees are more engaged and motivated when their leaders involve them in the vision-setting process. In addition, a Deloitte study found that companies with a strong sense of purpose and clear vision outperformed their peers by 42% in terms of revenue growth.

Ensuring your vision is clear and inspiring can help attract and retain top talent. According to one LinkedIn study, 71% of professionals say they would take a pay cut to work for a company that has a mission and values they believe in. A similar study conducted in 2022 by workplace review platform Glassdoor found that companies with a strong sense of purpose and clear vision have 30% higher employee retention rates than those that do not.

Encouraging employees to participate in the vision-setting process not only helps build buy-in and support for the new direction you want to take; it also fosters a company-wide sense of ownership and commitment. Organizations that involve employees in decision-making processes have a 4.5 times higher level of employee engagement compared to those that don't.

2. Involve employees in the process

Organizations that involve employees in the change process are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers in terms of organizational health – and this involvement goes far beyond the initial vision-setting phase. Your teams should play an active part in the entire change process and should be invested in its ultimate success.

  • To involve employees in this process, consider the following steps:
  • Communicate your change vision clearly and often.
  • Seek out diverse opinions.
  • Solicit feedback from employees, and recognize them for their contributions.

Organizational change can hugely impact an employee’s experience, and in some cases can alter the nature of their role. Failing to acknowledge this can negatively impact your bottom line as well as your workplace culture. Employees work harder when they’re happy, so it’s important not to reduce morale and productivity by alienating them with new changes that they don’t align with.

For this reason, your teams should not be left in the dark about new developments and should feel empowered to provide ideas and feedback at every stage of the process, including whatever qualms and misgivings they may have.

3. Foster a culture of innovation

Research has shown that fostering a culture of innovation can provide significant benefits for businesses, including increased revenue, market share, and customer satisfaction. It can also streamline the process of organizational change. But what is a culture of innovation, and how do you implement it in your own business?

A culture of innovation is one that values creativity, incentivizes experimentation, rewards risk-taking, and accepts failure as a natural part of the building process. Such cultures can accommodate organization-wide change much more easily and effectively than their more rigid and traditional counterparts.

Organizations structured around the principles of innovation not only face fewer obstacles and coordination challenges when the time comes for ambitious transformation; they are also nimble enough to pivot if a flaw in the process is identified or outcomes fail to live up to expectations. Newer organizations should be especially willing to actively build this kind of innovation-focused culture, as entrenched workplaces can be harder and slower to shift.

Learn more about the value of nimble, innovative cultures in this U+ insight.

4. Communicate often

Back in the 1990s, a group of researchers tested a variety of styles for communicating organizational change. The results were hardly surprising. Organizations that effectively communicated change initiatives saw an increase in employee performance, job satisfaction and trust, as well as higher openness and commitment to the specific change. In contrast, poorly communicated change initiatives produced little more than uncertainty and stress.

All successful change initiatives are built on communication. You need to communicate regularly with all stakeholders to keep them informed of progress and address any concerns. When communicating, it’s crucial to:

  • Be transparent and honest about progress and challenges.
  • Celebrate successes and milestones.
  • Address concerns and questions openly.
  • Listen actively to feedback and suggestions.

By committing to a transparent and honest communication environment, where stakeholders feel free to voice their concerns, you can ensure that the change process is fully visible to all.

5. Lead by example

When it comes to effective change leadership, leading by example is a powerful approach that can inspire high levels of engagement and buy-in from the team. This leadership style is all about actively demonstrating a strong work ethic and showing that you value your team's commitment to change by carrying some of the weight yourself.

When you lead organizational change by example, you demonstrate your investment in the initiative and put it some proverbial “skin in the game” to boot. You foster an open environment characterized by trust, respect, and the free exchange of ideas. Without these elements, implementing change can become very difficult indeed.

Steph Hess, Head of Corporate Marketing at pioneering work management company Asana has put it even more succinctly: “To really inspire, grow, and build empathetic teams, a leader must model the values and behaviors they are hoping to nurture in others.”

The U+ Method can help your organization efficiently and effectively build innovations across sectors without jeopardizing your core. To date, we have used this method to bring 100+ products to market, creating over $2 billion in value for Fortune 1000 companies. Check out U+ success stories here.

Don't miss the opportunity to boost your innovation strategy 100x and unlock the full potential of your next venture. Learn more about this game-changing platform, and book a demo here.