Using Innovation to lead effectively, work collaboratively and drive results

This paper looks at Innovation Leadership a term that encompasses creating the climate for innovation within organisations as well as driving innovation to ensure an organisation is driving growth, is healthy and continues to be commercially viable.

The authors state that Innovation Leadership has two components, Innovative Leadership and Leadership for Innovation

Innovative Leadership
Applying Innovative Thinking to Leadership Tasks. Establishing new ways of thinking and different actions in how you lead, manage and go about work. How you face into complex challenges and the tools and processes utilised to deal with complex, entrenched or intractable problems. Innovative Leaders are quick and agile often in the absence of detail or predictability.

Leadership for Innovation
Creating the climate and framework where innovation can thrive in the organisation. Empowering and enabling the team to apply Innovative Thinking to solving problems and developing new products and services.

Six Innovation Thinking Skills

The authors propose six innovation thinking skills that organisations can use to create deeper understanding, new approaches and better solutions

  1. Paying Attention
    The ability to notice what has gone unnoticed, considering different viewpoints and multiple inputs.
  2. Personalising
    Who are you reaching, what matters to them, what don’t you know? Deep customer insight leads to new ideas and insights.
  3. Imaging
    Using images to help visualise, to tell stories, to make sense of large amounts of information.
  4. Serious Play
    Experimentation, rapid prototyping, unlocking the creative side of the brain to think laterally
  5. Collaborative Inquiry
    Drawing a variety of viewpoints from diverse stakeholders to provide a richer understanding
  6. Crafting
    Making intuitive connections between seemly unrelated information, finding order in chaos through a process of adductive reasoning.


  • Interpretive: look for different perspectives
  • Personal: consider the customer point of view
  • Aductive: redefine the problem, ask what if
  • Experimental: rapid prototyping, making solutions feel real
  • Collaborative: share insights and ideas
  • Integrative: consider the whole


  • Paying Attention
  • Personalising
  • Imaging
  • Serious Play
  • Collaborative Inquiry
  • Crafting


  • Perceive more deeply (beyond first impressions)
  • Tap into Personal experiences to gain fresh perspectives
  • Bring information to life through use of metaphor
  • Generate insights through exploration and experimentation
  • Foster productive dialogue by embracing diverse viewpoints
  • Synthesis rather than analysis

Key Takeaways

  • There are two aspects of innovation in the workplace, Leading Innovation and Enabling Innovation (referred to here as Leadership for Innovation)
  • Six skills identified are a useful toolkit of methodologies that can help you be more effective as an Innovation Leader
Synopsis of a white paper from The Center for Creative Leadership
by David Horth and Dan Buchner

Published 2014

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