Innovation will not change the economy overnight. Change takes time and the focus of innovation leaders working inside government, existing industries, and in startups should be to create an environment where it can thrive. Although changes in policy and an influx of money can facilitate a shift to a new way of doing business or access to additional resources, real change comes from making new connections and being given the space to grow.

These connections can take place in the mind of an inventor or the people on the front lines of a company working with an emerging customer need. Or it can happen with a policy maker that that is working to align macroeconomic and employment trends with shifts in a particular industry.

The role of an innovation leader is to create an environment where individuals, managers, business owners, and policymakers alike have the ability to connect and generate new sources of value.

Creating new connections can happen in various ways. Entrepreneurs need to get involved in the political process, and politicians and innovation leaders need to meet the people who are creating what’s next and understand what they need to thrive. Within an existing organization, it can be as simple as getting people together over lunch to talk about new ideas or initiatives, or giving people space to develop their own solutions.

Building the capacity to innovate is about simultaneously giving people the opportunity and resources to succeed and stimulating people to step forward and take a chance. The process needs to be worked from both sides in order to be effective.

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