Project Management Institute

Innovation

Renee E. Speitel, Vice President of the Engagement Program Management Office, HP Services, Littleton, Mass., USA

Renee E. Speitel,
Vice President of the Engagement Program Management Office, HP Services, Littleton, Mass., USA

Think differently. Look for alternatives and new ways to improve your current situation. Sometimes these ideas are small, incremental improvements, and other times they're larger, like finding whole new ways to do things. But if you've got the ideas, you've got to take the initiative to move them forward—that's the job of a leader and an innovator.

In the practical project management sense, innovation means improving on a company's capabilities, tools and business practices. Project managers are natural-born innovators—they're constantly looking for ways to implement systems, manage risk and creatively deal with problems they see everyday. If project managers didn't act on their solutions, they wouldn't be project managers.

To improve your capacity to innovate, look for little ways to make changes in your work. Test different alternatives; look at a problem from multiple people's perspectives. Then you can move on to the bigger things. Don't close yourself off to your environment. Find others who you think are innovative and pick up their work habits. Whenever you're holding back, you're limiting your creativity, and that goes hand in hand with innovation.

When communicating with executives, be clear about your ideas—don't be shy about sharing them. Make it known that you're ready, willing and able to execute those ideas. Bounce ideas off your boss and draw others into the conversation. They'll understand your strengths and see your willingness to initiate solutions as a positive leadership attribute.

When leading your team, ask members to share their ideas—pick the best and get the team to execute them. Lead by example. If you want people to be innovative, you have to draw it out of them and give them credit for their initiative. That will encourage people over time to step up and offer their ideas more frequently.

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PHOTO BY JOHN EARLE

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LEADERSHIP / 2005 / WWW.PMI.ORG
LEADERSHIP / 2005

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