I read once that “innovation is creativity realized.” I wish I could remember where I read it and who wrote this statement, but it squares nicely with the sentiment Simon Sinek shared recently as part of our Friday’s With Vistage webinar series. (Cleverly named to head off the question, “What day is that webinar happening?”) Anyway, Sinek described creativity as the journey and innovation as the destination. During his excellent talk, he highlighted a number of key points including what he described as “parameters for innovation” – or the conditions for achieving success in this endeavor. The three parameters he outlined are:
1) Destination – you have to know where you’re going.
2) Confidence – you have to believe you can get there.
3) Crafting Your Own Solution – it has to come from within (innovation will not be prescribed to you).
Sinek also made some other excellent observations about innovation that speak squarely to why peer advisory groups should have a unique capacity for inspiring it:
1) New ideas are more likely to come from outside your industry than inside it. Sinek suggests trying what he did: Throw away your industry trade pubs where everyone is saying the same thing and look at what’s happening elsewhere to see what you can apply to your own work. Industry-diverse peer advisory groups are hard-wired for apprehending information and insights from other sectors.
2) Sinek believes innovation is best discovered in groups of three. This could be interpreted to contradict the peer advisory group model if your group has more than a dozen members. Yet if you look at the architecture of a professionally facilitated peer group instead, Sinek’s Law of 3 fits perfectly: 1) The Chair (professional facilitator) 2) The group 3) The individual member. It makes perfect sense when you think of it that way. It’s what separates a peer advisory group from its less heralded cousin – the committee. (You know? The one that designed the horse).
3) Sinek stated that small businesses are better innovators than large companies.
This leads me to what I’ll call Peernovation. Assemble a group of confident CEOs/small business owners from different industries in a peer advisory group setting who are clear about where they want to go, who leverage the law of 3, and who fearlessly devise and follow-through on their own solutions, and you’ve got some serious peernovation at work. A journey in its own right that will lead to Sinek’s destination INNOVATION.
If peer advisory groups can help you achieve greater ROI for your executive development program, increase your ability to successfully execute strategic/organizational change initiatives, and foster a level of creative dialogue that will result in innovation – it’s an innovation worth trying.