How to do innovation right

Wina Smeenk
Article by: Wina Smeenk
How to do innovation right

We can’t be good at everything. Great engineers aren’t necessarily good at dealing with people, and artists generally can’t write a good business plan – or so the cliché goes. That’s why I am so excited about THNK’s philosophy of cross-over teams or “creative teams”.


This method is often used by creative industries – and its influence in spreading. Organizations are realizing that individuals cannot solve the serious problems our world is facing. For powerful companies and ego-based businesses, this can be quite shocking. They are used to different development models, or more comfortable with top-down decision making.


Knowing your core strengths – one of the prerequisites of creative leadership – isn’t necessarily the issue. One’s weaknesses are also key because this allows the orchestrator of the creative team to fill the gaps with people who complement each other. It’s not only more fun to work this way, it’s much more productive.


Imagine the thrill of starting with a seedling of an idea and taking it as far as you can – then throwing it into the group and watching how all those different types of minds turn it over and toy with different solutions and approaches, each based on their own experience and gut feelings and personal passions… that’s when an idea can really take off and soar. That’s how you get innovations that can change the world.


And changing the world is what THNK is all about. Because – and I can’t state this strongly enough – THNK is not about innovation for innovation’s sake, just to create more market share. THNK is about meaning and purpose and respect for our world. In other words, we are proponents of people-oriented change.


I love Apple, for instance. They make beautiful products that are quite innovative and seem so very personal and quickly become part of my daily routine. But why am I forced to get a new iPhone every 2 years? It’s like a 4-year-old who wants to be the best and the fastest. It’s exciting for a while, but you burn out fast, and we can’t all be born again every few years. Nature prefers it when we mature and slow down.

do innovation right
Let's stop this vicious cycle of earning more money while the world becomes less happy and runs out of resources. Put passion and purpose at the forefront. #passion #leadership #changemakers Click To Tweet

It’s easy to assume that all innovation is people-oriented change because it makes our lives easier. But does the innovation meet our basic needs? Are we happier as a world? Are our limited natural and human resources benefitting or being worn out? Is the current trend of ever-changing technological innovation actually helping or hindering us?

When you work as a member of a creative team, it’s important to remember this passion and purpose. You need to stand strong at times – and step back at other times. But you should never lose track of the original vision, and someone needs to keep track of the goal. After all, if everyone is a visionary, who is going to make the decisions?

This is why it is so important to compose the right creative team for each project. You need some people who are driven to achieve results, others who dream, others who add specific expertise…

Ideally, in a THNK future, there will be no heroes. There will be people with vision who know how to put together the right creative team – and achieve equality and fun, not jealousy and greed. Maybe less profit is a good thing.

Leaders who have the ability to orchestrate creative teams will not only be able to say “I want us to do this in a different way.” They will have the ability to realize their vision, and not only build products and systems that bring in money, but also build them in a way that benefits people and the world – and that have fun doing it.

It may sound like utopia, but what THNK wants to do is expand this to a level that will have the biggest impact. So these CEOs of the future will change the way they think. We need a paradigm shift on the highest level, otherwise we will go on earning more money while the world becomes less happy and we run out of resources. Let’s stop this vicious cycle. And THNK.

To discover how you can innovate towards people-oriented change, join the THNK Creative Leadership Program. Visit the program page to find out if you qualify or download the program brochure.