Seven Ways Leaders Can Foster Innovation – Jeff Bezos


  1. Be On-Purpose: Take the time to clarify your motivating values and compelling purpose, individually and collectively. Purpose fuels energy and drive to go beyond what is and to persevere until something extraordinary has been created. Purpose is the value-creating, energy-multiplying life force of innovation. Is purpose driving performance, or has performance become your purpose?
  2. Question and Listen: Step back to be open and curious. Ask questions and listen deeply. Strive to ask the extra question to challenge yourself and others to go deeper and stretch further. Seek diverse viewpoints. Constant inquiry and questions form the linguistics of innovation.
  3. Risk Experimentation: Have the courage to accelerate through failure by building momentum and speed through new learning. Experimentation steers us to our eventual destination through roadblocks, twists and turns, as long as we are learning agile and courageous enough to persist. Step back to make sure that your behaviors, systems and processes are not barriers to risk experimentation. Make sure your key people are encouraged to spend at least 15 percent of their time exploring and prototyping new ideas.
  4. Reflect and Synthesize: Set aside time for integration and synthesis. A CFO sets aside every Sunday evening to mind map his most complex or strategic issues. He gets all the pieces laid out and then links them up by associating the divergent parts into an integrated whole. Identify your best way to daily or weekly cut through the clutter to gain clarity and new possibility. Leadership creates clarity out of chaos.
  5. Consider Inside-Out and Outside-In Dynamics: Pause to consider the forces shaping the future by examining internal and external cues. Foster optimal creativity internally and consider competitive, global, and futuristic dynamics in an integrated manner. Innovation stands at the transformative crossroads of internal, collaborative creativity and external, customer-focused needs.
  6. Foster Generativity: Take the time to connect, coach, mentor, and develop your people. Constructively challenge their thinking, strategy, and behavior through the lens of innovation. Stretch people to create, innovate, and envision alternative futures. Grow your people to grow a culture of innovation.
  7. Be Authentic: The innovation potential of teams or organizations will be directly proportional to your innovation embodiment. Make sure your own behaviors are not unintentionally limiting an innovation around you. Ask, “How could I encourage even more innovation here?” Be the collaborative innovator you wish to see in your organization.

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