Innovation. The word itself is exciting and empowering. But how can we put it into practice in our everyday lives? Diane Bryant knows a thing or two about the subject. If you’re looking to shake things up at your company or organization, try putting her suggestions into play.
Reject the status quo. Innovation is about creating tomorrow, and it starts with a conviction that the status quo is intolerable. It takes courage and passion to forge ahead—to carry the flag that says, “We can do things differently.” When you’re making a statement that things are going to be different, you’re likely to be confronted with disagreement. Many people tend to resist change. You have to maintain your conviction that the changes you are proposing are not only different, but better.
Work within the system. Some people think innovation is about waking up to an amazing epiphany, and sometimes that’s true! But even a creative solution requires structure and boundaries to function effectively, or your change can dissolve into chaos. You have to understand the problem you’re going after.
Serve the company. If you focus on meeting the needs of your corporation, and if you are successful to that end, I guarantee that your achievement will be recognized. It can be tempting to formulate a plan based on what you believe is best for your own career, but a company will always look for the person who contributes solutions that help move it forward. Think about your skills and how you can best align those skills with the strategy of your corporation, while gaining additional experience on the side. Over time, your resume will take care of itself.
Master the technique. There are three steps for great innovation. First, figure out your prospect or opportunity. Next, generate a lot of great ideas. Finally, choose the ideas you can realistically implement. You won’t have much success with even a brilliant idea that is impractical or is too ahead of its time.
Seek fresh perspective. All leaders must eventually recognize that when they’ve been in their jobs for a long time, they’ve probably built up biases, and the only way to get around those biases is to invite in a new perspective. You have to bring in an alternate opinion—someone who is seeing things with fresh eyes.
Set gender aside. When I think about the role technology plays in the world, I feel so lucky that this field is where I landed. I’ve been the only woman on staff from the start, but there is something that unites all of us—we’re a bunch of motivated people who love to solve complex problems and make an impact. Any time you’re working in a group environment, look for what you have in common, instead of focusing on what you don’t—which, in this case, is gender.
Having said that, when women are faced with extreme bias from men, I think they are more apt to say, “I can fix this! I can stay here!” No, you can’t. You have to be willing to take a risk and say, “I’m going to go somewhere else. I’m going to make a move to where my contributions are appreciated.” Own your career. Take action. Make a move. That’s risk taking.
On motherhood. I have two children—Vitaly, 12, and Annika, 15. I gave birth to my daughter, and then I decided to adopt my son from Russia when he was five. There are just so many kids out there who need new homes.
On literature. I just finished reading Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. He talks about success and its contributing factors—environment, opportunity, circumstances, and sheer IQ. Success is so much more complex than just intelligence.
On balance. I have a passion for my job. I love my job. I have a passion for my kids. Of course I love my kids! You just have to figure out how to make it work, and each day is different. As a leader, manager, or mother, however, the best skill you can have is the ability to listen.
On math and engineering. We have to break the connection! You don’t have to be a great math student to be an engineer. You just have to be passionate about solving big, complex problems that have the potential to change the world. That’s why I come to work every day—not because I got an A in calculus.
On guilty pleasures. I love weeding. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, and you can see the impact immediately.