Innovation advice for business leaders

What innovation advice can help business leaders?

Innovation is crucial for maintaining competitiveness and driving growth in the rapidly evolving business landscape. For business leaders, fostering a culture of innovation and implementing effective strategies is essential. In this blog, Dr Richard Dune provides practical innovation advice for business leaders, outlining key facts, definitions, best practices, and recommendations to help navigate the complexities of innovation management.

Key facts and statistics

  • Economic impact - Companies prioritising innovation are 50% more likely to achieve above-average financial performance. 
  • Growth driver - Innovation is a top three priority for 84% of executives, yet only 6% are satisfied with their innovation performance.
  • Employee engagement - Organisations that foster innovation report a 30% increase in employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • Fear of failure - In a recent poll, 85% of executives say fear often or always holds back their organisation’s innovation efforts.

Key definitions

  • Innovation - Involves the process of generating, developing, and implementing new ideas, products, services, or processes that create significant value and drive growth. It encompasses both incremental improvements and disruptive breakthroughs.
  • An innovation culture - Is an organisational environment that encourages creativity, experimentation, and continuous improvement. It supports risk-taking and values new ideas from all levels of the organisation.

Best practices for implementing innovation

Understanding legislation and regulations

Compliance with relevant legislation and regulations is crucial for successful innovation, particularly in regulated health and social care sectors. Key regulatory bodies include:

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - Ensures workplace practices do not compromise employee safety.
  • Care Quality Commission (CQC) - Monitors health and social care services to maintain high standards.

Foster a culture of innovation

Encourage open communication

Promote an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Open communication channels are essential for fostering creativity and collaboration.

Support risk-taking

Innovation often involves trial and error. Encourage calculated risk-taking and view failures as learning opportunities. This approach helps build resilience and fosters a growth mindset.

Recognise and reward innovation

Implement recognition and reward programs to celebrate innovative ideas and achievements. This boosts morale and motivates employees to continue contributing creatively.

Strategic resource allocation

Invest in R&D

Allocate sufficient resources to research and development (R&D) to fuel innovation. Investing in R&D helps organisations stay ahead of industry trends and develop cutting-edge solutions.

Leverage technology

Utilise advanced technologies to streamline innovation processes. Tools like data analytics, project management software, and communication platforms enhance efficiency and collaboration.

Build diverse teams

Cross-functional collaboration

Form cross-functional teams to bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the innovation process. Collaboration across departments fosters holistic problem-solving and innovative thinking.

Inclusive leadership

Promote inclusive leadership to ensure diverse voices are heard. Leaders should actively seek input from different backgrounds and experiences to enrich the innovation process.

Implement structured processes

Idea management systems

Deploy idea management systems to capture, evaluate, and prioritise innovative ideas. These systems facilitate organised and efficient innovation workflows.

Regular review and feedback

Conduct regular reviews of innovation projects to assess progress and provide constructive feedback. Continuous evaluation ensures alignment with strategic goals and timely adjustments.

Overcoming barriers to innovation

Addressing the human side of innovation

Fear of failure, criticism, or negative career impacts can stifle innovation. Creating a culture that addresses these human factors is crucial. Leaders need to foster an environment where employees feel safe to experiment and take risks.

Expert insights

  • Naomi Kelman, CEO, Willow - “Creating a safe environment for innovation is really what you need to do to get the greatness out of the people who work with you, which is ultimately what drives growth.”
  • Safi Bahcall, author, Loonshots -“Most of the important breakthroughs failed many times before they succeeded. That is where ‘fail fast’ goes wrong. Most companies are too impatient.”

Leveraging external perspectives

Learning from other industries and engaging with external experts can provide fresh insights and prevent tunnel vision.

Expert insights

  • Amy Brooks, Chief Innovation Officer, NBA - “You can use data or examples to convince people about what is working in the market or what other industries are doing. We like to share best practices within our own leagues and within sports, but we also pay attention to every other industry that sells to consumers.” 
  • Tanya Baker, Global Leader, Goldman Sachs Accelerate - “If someone knowledgeable thinks what you are doing is a bad idea, make sure they have a seat at the table. Put them on your board; make them one of your advisers so you don’t have any blind spots.”

Balancing focus and flexibility

Effective innovation requires balancing focus on current projects with the flexibility to adapt to new opportunities.

Expert insights

  • Neal Gutterson, Former CTO, Corteva - “[A] key skill is being able to hold two divergent thoughts and approaches in your brain and in your team at the same time. The great companies will be ambidextrous innovators, able to disrupt themselves in the future while serving the core [business] today.”
  • Anjali Sud, CEO, Vimeo - “What keeps me up at night is execution and, within that, focus. Because when you are in a market like ours, at a time like now, the opportunity is huge. We are this nimble, fast-growing, fast-moving company, and everywhere I look I see opportunity. But am I providing enough focus for my teams so that we can truly be great at something? You don’t want to miss a big boat, and it’s hard sometimes to say no to valid, exciting ideas that could be transformative.”


  • Create an innovation culture - Foster an environment that encourages open communication, risk-taking, and continuous improvement.
  • Invest in R&D - Allocate sufficient resources to research and development to drive innovation.
  • Leverage technology - Use advanced tools and technologies to enhance innovation processes and collaboration.
  • Build diverse teams - Form cross-functional teams and promote inclusive leadership to harness diverse perspectives.
  • Implement structured processes - Use idea management systems and conduct regular reviews to maintain focus and alignment.
  • Address fear of failure - Create a safe environment where employees can experiment and learn from failures without fear of negative consequences.
  • Engage external experts - Learn from other industries and involve external advisors to gain fresh insights and avoid blind spots.
  • Balance focus and flexibility - Ensure a strategic focus on current projects while remaining adaptable to new opportunities.


For business leaders, embracing innovation is not just an option but a necessity in today’s competitive market. Leaders can drive meaningful and sustainable growth by fostering a culture of innovation, strategically allocating resources, leveraging technology, building diverse teams, and implementing structured processes. Additionally, addressing the human side of innovation and learning from external perspectives can further enhance innovation efforts.

At The Mandatory Training Group, we are dedicated to supporting organisations in their innovation journeys. Our comprehensive training programs and compliance solutions, including ComplyPlus™, help build the internal capacity needed for successful innovation adoption and implementation. Click here for more insights and updates on the diffusion of innovations and other key topics in health and social care.

About the author

Dr Richard Dune

With over 20 years of experience, Richard blends a rich background in NHS, the private sector, academia, and research settings. His forte lies in clinical R&D, advancing healthcare tech, workforce development and governance. His leadership ensures regulatory compliance and innovation align seamlessly.

What innovation advice can help business leaders?- ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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