4. Build Ambidextrous Innovation Leadership
Ambidextrous leadership is essential for succeeding at innovation as it’s essential to strike a balance between ‘business as usual’ tasks and experimental work.
Team leaders must provide their people with the freedom to organise their own schedules and offer guidance to help them stay on track. Crucially, ambidextrous innovation leadership involves building safe spaces where intrapreneurs are free to explore imaginative ideas, without feeling confined by day-to-day responsibilities.
Balancing Team Objectives
Innovation teams must find their rhythm by balancing iterative experiments with reporting, internal communications, and BAU process responsibilities. Some companies like Google, for example, have been known to reserve 20% of their employees time for new projects.
While individual intrapreneurs require creative freedoms to fuel innovative ideas, it’s important to maintain balance across your teams and work towards clear objectives. Without ambidextrous leadership, you risk overspending and focusing your energy in the wrong places. Or worse, prioritising today versus tomorrow.
A critical factor of successful corporate innovation is to set clear objectives that are understood at all levels of your organisation. While ring-fencing your innovation teams from your core business function is a useful step to accelerate processes and embrace a lean approach, it’s vital to maintain open lines of communication with key stakeholders.
Whether it’s sending regular financial updates or sharing exciting updates with your wider organisation, ambidextrous leadership is all about managing resource allocation and validating the value of your work.
A golden example of an ambidextrous leader is the mastermind behind Amazon, Jeff Bezos. In an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Bezos said the following:
“There is a ton of fine-grained innovation that happens on a daily basis to make our operations more efficient and lower costs.
I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon.com. If you already know it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Only through experimentation can you get real invention. The most important inventions come from trial and error with lots of failures.”