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Innovation is all about energy

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, gives an insight into high growth businesses and how positive energy can make all the different to business growth.

It’s fascinating to work with high growth businesses; you know they are different as soon as you walk in the door. Why? Because you can feel the buzz of energy and excitement all around, everyone is cheerfully busy, people go out of their way to make you feel welcome, are totally engaged in what they are doing and although the rate of growth causes problems, they deal with them, as they are locked in a continuous state of adaptation and innovation.

What’s interesting about such businesses is that they don’t actually consider themselves to be innovative – it’s just the way they are and what they do!

The opposite is true of businesses that lack real growth potential; they lack enthusiasm, there is a feeling of negativity, people are reluctant to take ownership and responsibility, people don’t follow through on actions, mediocrity is the norm, anything involving risk is belittled – just writing this is sapping my energy.

Think about it, spend the day with a bunch of negative people and it will bring your energy levels right down, spend it with a group of positive people looking for a challenge (and a bit of fun) and your energy levels will go through the roof.

How can you harness energy?

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” Albert Einstein

If energy is critical to innovation then it’s essential that it be channelled into a form that is conducive to the creation of an innovation culture.

You can only feel energised about something if you are truly connected with it, gain pleasure from doing it and when it directly aligns to the fulfilment of your aspirations. Great leaders therefore make sure that they:

• get the right people, in the right places, doing the things that energise them;
• recognise that you can’t innovate in a vacuum and therefore develop a deep connection between their people and the organisation’s vision, values and purpose which provide the context for innovation and change;
• generate energy through achieving the optimum balance between personal and business aspirations;
• develop great teams, packed with ‘A’ players who all understand and are committed to get the best out of each other;
• set stretching goals that demand a different and better way of doing things and inject a sense of urgency;
• make sure that their people have the right balance of challenge and support to achieve high performance;
• invest their time in coaching and developing their people to be the best that they can possibly be;
• create an environment that doesn’t deal with problems, only solutions, that focuses on the ‘what if’ and the ‘can do’ rather than the ‘can’t do.’ Negativity is simply not tolerated (whilst challenging questions are).

Find more support and resources for businesses at the North East Growth Hub.