Category Archives: Innovation

Four Tips for Sparking Innovation in Your Organization

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” — Margaret Heffernan

The status quo never leads to success. Success stems from questioning what we think we know, from following thoughts down alleys that frighten us, and from considering possibilities that, at first, sound outrageous. When we step outside of our comfort zone, that is where true innovation happens. So, how can you spark innovation not only within yourself, but in your organization as a whole?

Human interaction

It’s easy to get caught up in our own thoughts. It is through conversations with others that we are exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. We spend the majority of our time in the workplace focused on accomplishing specific tasks. While completing these tasks is pertinent to achieving personal and organizational goals, it is also important that we make time to interact with colleagues. This interaction can expose us to new ideas and give novel concepts an arena to percolate. Human interaction is necessary to spark innovation in your organization.


Conflict can be beneficial when we take the opportunity to look at the root cause. What do we agree on? What do we disagree on? This provides the opportunity for us to consider where we might be right, but also, where we might be wrong. For conflict to be beneficial, it should never be personal. It should not be about the other person, it should be about ideas and perspectives. Progress will never be made if we all think alike; it is through our differences that we discover new ideas and ways of accomplishing our goals. Conflict can serve as a catalyst for sparking innovation in your organization.


Arguing is the way we hash out differing perspectives and opinions. This, of course, must be done with absolute respect for the experiences and knowledge that others bring to the table in order to be productive. We all have something different to contribute to the conversation, this is what makes the whole more valuable than the sum of its parts. It is when several parties are able to argue their points of view, consider other possibilities, and then compromise that true innovation starts to emerge.


Debate gives us the opportunity to look at our reasoning. Are we logical, rational, and realistic? Or, are we operating from a point of bias or habit? It’s only though getting outside of our comfort zone and habitual way of thinking that we can start fostering the spark of innovation. Healthy debate challenges our way of thinking and behaving. This is where original ideas spring up and where, working together, we can nurture these new ideas and come up with something fantastic.

Always Have Their Back

As a leader, possibly the most important role you can play in sparking innovation in your organization is to always have your employees’ back. Fear of failure, criticism and the repercussions that can accompany failure deter many employees from thinking beyond the status quo, from what is to what is possible. Encourage human interaction. Support constructive conflict. Value respectful argument. And, encourage lively debate. Set the example and then give your employees your full support. Sparking innovative thinking is good for the individual, it’s good for the team, and it’s a valuable necessity for the organization.

What will you do today to spark innovation in your organization?



© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Does Your Leadership Support Innovation?

file0001976108977“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” —Steve Jobs

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Innovation and the Leadership Pyramid

How is innovation dependent on the leadership pyramid for the support and connections necessary for success? Innovation needs the abilities and resources that those in a position of authority have to support creativity and the implementation of innovation throughout the organization. The access that leaders have to information, influence, and resources is essential to the process of innovation.

Innovation needs support and an organizational climate focused on excellence in order to be successful. For innovation to occur, team members must be able and willing to cooperate in the development and application of new ideas. The foundation needed to provide the resources and support for the collaboration that enables innovation must be provided by leadership. So, how can your leadership support innovation?

See through the informational noise

Efforts to innovate should be associated with a clear purpose, outlined objectives, and a shared vision. This clarity and direction from leaders guides innovative efforts in a direction that will provide value to organizational goals. To be successful, innovative efforts should be informed by organizational and market data and information. The vast amounts of available data can overwhelm those trying to sort through it. Leaders often have historical experience with the information which allows them to sort through the noise and identify the key information to support innovative efforts more easily.

Successful innovation requires that a diverse group of people be brought together and encouraged to share information and participate in the process of innovation. Organizational leaders have the authority to determine which individuals participate and what information is shared. Those in a leadership position often have the big picture understanding that is useful in determining who should participate and what information will be beneficial to innovative efforts.

Leaders must manage the knowledge resources of the organization. To successfully innovate, one needs access to accurate information, the capability to connect the informational dots, and the ability to filter pertinent from arbitrary information. Leaders have access to the data and resources necessary to help innovators see through the informational noise

The ability to execute

The end goal of innovation is execution. It is the responsibility of the leader to decide which projects are right for implementation. Successful innovation can only take place when leaders design organizational processes that support innovation and the implementation of new ideas. Leaders also have the ability to support learning from failed attempts to implement innovative ideas rather than instilling a fear of failure.

For innovative ideas to be successful, leaders must provide the practical support for implementation. They must supply the necessary resources to test new ideas. Leaders must manage the people, time, knowledge, and resources allocated to innovative efforts and implementation. Leaders have the authority and resources necessary to execute on innovative ideas.

Build a culture that supports innovation

A culture that supports innovation provides a safe place to experiment, to fail, and to learn. It must emphasize collaboration and the continual pursuit of excellence. The leader must provide the support and climate that encourages creativity and curiosity that facilitates innovation. The responsibility for developing a high-performance, innovative culture falls on organizational leaders.

A culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaborative work practices increases innovation. This type of culture eliminates silos and supports ongoing, open communication. It gives people the opportunity to collaborate by providing permission, time, and resources. An innovative culture rewards the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Successful innovation is encouraged when learning becomes entrenched in the culture.

People must feel safe to make mistakes and then talk about them openly so others can learn from them. An organization that supports successful innovation has a culture where shared decision-making, experimenting, learning, and development are emphasized. Developing a culture that supports learning and diversity has an innovative competitive advantage. This type of culture allows innovation to grow from shared experiences and differing conceptual lenses. Leaders have the influence necessary to build a culture that supports innovation.

Collaboration not competition

Organizational leadership should support innovative collaboration over a mindset of competition. Collaboration requires the sharing and exploration of knowledge across departments, roles, and regions. The contribution of diverse expertise enhances organizational learning, the creation of knowledge, and complex problem-solving. Competition can stifle the ability to share and build on the knowledge and experiences of others. While competition may offer the short-term satisfaction of a personal victory, the satisfaction gleaned from collaborative success can be long-lasting.

Organizational policies should not be overly restrictive in the access that is allowed to pertinent data. Policies should not foster a culture that encourages secrecy and internal competition. Collaboration should challenge ideas in a positive, co-creative way. An important factor in innovation is the support of leadership in encouraging team diversity and the sharing of information to enhance creativity and problem-solving through collaborative efforts rather than competition. Leaders have the influence to set the climate of innovation as collaborative rather than competitive.


Successful innovation is dependent on the data, resources, authority, and influence that leaders can provide. Individuals in a position of authority have the ability to see through the informational noise, execute on ideas, build a supportive culture, and encourage collaboration rather than competition. Become the leader who provides the direction, support, influence, and resources necessary for successful innovation in your organization.


© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at



Are You Good at Failing?



“There’s no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times.” —Jonathan Ive

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Why Fail?

We always talk about success, but what about the stepping stones to success that we call failure? We’ve all heard the advice: fail fast and fail often. But why fail at all? When we fail, we gain insight into what went right and what went wrong. This information helps guide our next steps in the right direction. Failure helps us to learn what we don’t know so we can determine who or what we need access to for success. We can also share lessons learned from our failure with others and implement lessons others have learned from their failures. The fact is, you’re going to fail so you might as well get good at it.


Brene Brown explained, “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” Great innovations are developed through trial and error. It’s not very often you get grand innovation right the first time. The only way to assure you will not fail is by doing nothing and innovation is never built on inaction.


Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” As much as it may feel fatal, you will survive, failure is just part of the innovation process. The quicker you fail, the smaller and more manageable your mistakes will be. Every time you challenge yourself you are flirting with failure but, when you fail you have the opportunity to step up your thinking. You aren’t invincible so you might as well develop an accepting attitude towards failure.


Julie Andrews said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Develop resilience; use your failures as learning experiences. Make adjustments and return better than ever. Fail, pick yourself back up and move forward. Failure can transform you and the way you look at the world around you. The more you fail the better you will become at making corrections quickly.


Winston Churchill explained, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Failure is a stepping stone to success. It often brings with it new opportunities and perspectives. Most great successes have been preceded by failure, sometimes multiple failures. You will achieve success once you are willing to accept failure as a way to learn and move forward.

Are You Good at Failing?

Woody Allen said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Remember, failing is part of the journey. You learn more lessons and gain more wisdom from your failures than your successes can ever provide. Value and celebrate your successes, but learn to value the lessons that failure has to offer as well.





© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at



Growing New Leaders


“Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.” —Warren Bennis

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

Why Grow New Leaders?

Developing leaders throughout your organization places you in a position to conquer new leadership challenges where innovation and flexibility are the keys to success. When you build on the expertise within the ranks of your organization you improve efficiency and effectiveness. Growing new leaders allows you to tap into the talent and potential of your team members. Let’s look at three of the factors that promote the growing and nurturing of new leaders.


You must start by creating an environment where others have the opportunity and are encouraged to lead. Develop a culture where employees embrace collaboration and open communication. Value the diversity that offers a continual flow of new perspectives. Provide employees with an environment that challenges them in a way that engages and inspires. Encourage the sharing of ideas by asking great questions and valuing the answers you receive. Provide work that employees can feel passionate about. Network and relationship building are important factors in leadership. Help and encourage employees to build their network and develop strong relationships built on trust and respect. Implement programs where new leaders can be mentored.


If you want to grow new leaders you must provide them with experiences that help them understand who they are, what they stand for, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Give them the opportunity to participate in solving difficult problems. Allow them to make mistakes and help them learn how to grow from the lesson these mistakes teach. Encourage them to share their ideas and allow them to participate in planning and implementation of new ideas. Every employee has valuable ideas, insights, and perspectives; engage them in productive conversations. When employees feel like they are an integral part of the organization they will be more motivated and engaged in growing as a leader.


Give employees the training and experiences they need to develop leadership skills. These skills will enable them to have a positive influence on colleagues, make informed decisions, and contribute new ideas. Help them develop an understanding of their own biases and how these biases can impact decision making. Teach them to appreciate the benefits of obtaining diverse points of view. Help them develop the ability to ask the right questions so they can make sense of overwhelming amounts of information. Teach them the value of networking. Create in them an ownership mentality. And, most importantly, serve as a role-model of good leadership and show them how to bring out the best in others.

Everyone Wins

Everyone wins when you grow new leaders and develop the leadership pipeline throughout your organization. When you have individuals with leadership ability at every level of your organization you increase the speed at which you can respond to change, your ability to be flexible, and your ability to respond to uncertainty. When you become more involved in the leadership development of your employees you will experience improved employee and customer satisfaction. By growing new leaders, your organization becomes more nimble and innovative, able to respond more quickly to customer needs and changes in the business environment.



© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


The Key to Continued Success: Innovation


The Key to Continued Success: Innovation

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” —William Pollard

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


It would be foolish to think that we can continue to be successful by doing the same things tomorrow that we did yesterday. Innovation allows us to create something new that meets an unmet need and provides value. The responsibility for innovating cannot be placed on a few, select individuals; innovation has to be everyone’s job.

How Do We Create It?

Innovation takes the effort of the whole organization. When you take all the small ideas that employees have to offer and combine them, you often come up with one, great idea. To capitalize on this one great idea, we must give valid consideration to every idea. Successful innovation requires the igniting of passion throughout the organization. The focus should be the customers, both internal and external, that we serve. Let’s create an environment that encourages innovation.


What type of culture fosters innovation? It is up to organizational leaders to create and maintain a culture where innovation can thrive. One of the most important features of this type of culture is an emphasis on learning. The organization should encourage and facilitate the process of continual self-improvement for employees. The culture should emphasize the importance of purposefully creating a new future. There should be a shared definition of innovation throughout the organization. The focus must be on continuous improvement and the prevention and solving of problems. To come up with useful, innovative ideas, employees need to be given time to become familiar with the needs of the customer. They need the opportunity and resources to experiment with ideas.


What do principles have to do with innovation? Innovation does not happen overnight. It’s about thinking long-term and requires focused commitment. A shared vision will guide innovation towards the achievement of organizational objectives. The vision should clearly outline our principles and our principles should guide our innovative efforts. Strong principles allow us to challenge the status quo while remaining true to the strategic direction of the organization.


How do relationships impact our ability to innovate? Camaraderie between team members is the result of healthy relationships. These strong relationships allow us to work together to connect and combine ideas. Relationships with both internal and external customers are developed when we create exceptional interactions with them. It is essential that we develop mutual trust and confidence in each other. People who feel inspired are more committed and will go the extra mile to help the organization succeed. Every employee should strive to inspire those around them.


How does our attitude affect our ability to innovate effectively? Attitude has a huge impact on innovation. We need to be open-minded and receptive to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives. We must be willing to tackle the difficult issues. We should find inspiration in the challenge. We must keep a positive and collaborative attitude even during disagreements.


What sort of behaviors increase the odds for successful innovation? The only way to get good ideas is to get a lot of ideas without judgment. These ideas can be evaluated for usefulness later. Employees must be encouraged to experiment with new ideas and concepts. They should be allowed to let ideas evolve and grow over time. We need to explore a wide range of solutions. The focus needs to be on outcomes and making sure everyone involved knows the vision, strategic goals, and desired results. There should be a healthy tension between where you are and where you are going. This tension should ignite passion but not competition.


Will what you did yesterday be sufficient for tomorrow? The answer is no. Long-term success goes to the organization where innovation is built into the culture. The truth is, you must learn to innovate or you will become obsolete. You never know where the next great idea will come from. So, create a culture that fosters innovation and involves every employee in the process.

© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Stifling Employee Engagement


Stifling Employee Engagement

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” — Simon Sinek

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM

Employee Engagement

Employees want to be challenged, to have control over their work tasks, and have the opportunity to continue increasing their knowledge and skill set. When employees feel fully engaged they become emotionally committed to working hard in the best interest of the organization.

Are You Stifling Employee Engagement?

Do the employees throughout your organization know that they share in the success of the organization? If you want your employees to do more than just show up to work, you must consciously develop a culture that engages them in their work and shows appreciation for the contributions they make to the success of the organization. Watch out for these management behaviors that stifle employee engagement.

Unsupportive culture

Corporate culture affects performance and contributes to the social control that influences the way employees behave and make decisions. Culture bonds individuals together on a social level to make them feel included in the experience of the organization. Engagement must become part of the culture. When employees enjoy their work and the environment they work in they are more loyal, innovative, provide better customer service, and strive to continually improve the organization.

Out-dated view of work

In the early 20th century, Fredrick Taylor pioneered scientific management. This form of management focused on production and breaking projects into tasks. Employees could then be trained to specialize in a specific task. Taylor emphasized efficiency, control, and predictability. This view of leadership treated employees like instruments that leaders could manipulate. The focus of leadership was on the needs of the organization and not those of employees.

Times have changed; as employees become more educated and skilled, their desire to participate in the leadership and decision-making process increases. High performing employees expect the opportunity to participate and be independent. Your employees are the core of your product or service. They should find their work to be fulfilling and meaningful. If you want your employees to be engaged in their work, you should reevaluate and make adjustments to how you view work.

Lack of investment

Employee engagement requires the investment of resources to continually develop employee knowledge and skills. Talented employees want to continuously improve themselves. As a leader, you must focus on their development and offer them meaningful opportunities to contribute to the organization.

Lack of commitment

A culturethat supports employee engagement requires full commitment from management since that’s where the responsibility for employee engagement falls.Spend time helping employees succeed. Make sure you, as a leader, and your employees are committed to the right things.

Lack of inspiration

When employees do not feel inspired by those who lead them they will not be fully engaged in the organization. Employees are motivated by shared trust, values, and purpose. By developing and maintaining trusting relationships you can inspire individuals to collaborate, share knowledge, and contribute to the development of new organizational knowledge. Let employees know, through your words and actions, why they should work for you. Be a source of inspiration.


Employee engagement is dependent on commitment from management, a supportive culture, training, and empowerment. Provide employees with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to deliver a value that exceeds expectations. Remember that employees who are emotionally committed to the organization want to contribute. Give them the tools and opportunities to make the meaningful contributions that benefit them on and individual level and the organization as a whole.

© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli