While innovation can be defined in many ways, the author sees it as a process. It is not the sudden eureka moment in the middle of the night, nor is it a clear and linear path towards a final destination. Instead, it involves a strong sense of creativity and curiosity. An innovative mind has a natural inclination towards out-of-the-box thinking. It involves a willingness to try something new, without fear or judgment, to develop something no one else has ever articulated. While the mindset comes naturally, it requires fuel to keep it running. Innovators are voracious readers and researchers. They feed their mindset all of the fuel it needs to stay informed and relevant in their field.

Many of the same things can be said for the Lean mindset. Lean management doesn’t happen overnight, and it is very rarely a clear and linear path to true Lean thinking. Some might consider Lean a subset of innovative thinking, while others see it in reverse. Regardless of the relationship’s directionality, one thing is certain: You cannot have one without the other.

This book follows John Riley, the CEO of a medium-sized valve company just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who will stop at nothing to create an innovative work environment. Through the ups and downs of his journey, he learns a number of Lean and innovative skills, strategies, and mindsets to help him build the business he’s always envisioned for himself.

Throughout the book, you see examples of both strong and poor innovative leadership skills demonstrated by each of the main characters. The key messages are ones that help leaders build and access a mindset insistent on continuous improvement. Leadership techniques and abilities that bolster creative thought and problem-solving are the most successful throughout this book.

To be truly innovative, you can never stop driving the learning process. For this to happen, leaders need to recognize when there is a need for a change or improvement. This is the beauty of the marriage between Lean and innovation: They both require continuous learning and growth. The desire to improve is only one piece of this equation, however. The other is the willingness to act. Without both of these factors, true innovation will always be out of reach.

part I|76 pages

What Is Innovation and How Does It Work?

chapter 1|26 pages

Defining Creativity and Innovation

chapter 2|22 pages

Learning and Development

chapter 3|11 pages

Group Contributions to Innovation

part II|32 pages

Leading Innovation

chapter 5|16 pages

Leader Accountability and Development

chapter 6|14 pages

Culture and Values

part III|72 pages

Sustaining Innovation and Change

chapter 7|24 pages

Change Management

chapter 8|10 pages

Ideas and Talent

chapter 9|11 pages

Servant Leadership and Innovation

chapter 10|17 pages

Continuous Improvement Mindset

chapter 11|6 pages

The Key Concepts of Fostering Innovation