How to Successfully Manage Innovation and Drive Organizational Change

Jens Heitland is a serial entrepreneur, a former IKEA executive, and the host of The Jens Heitland Show. He’s worked in every size company and offers a unique perspective for anyone seeking to innovate and foster human innovation in the process.

In this episode, he shares how leaders can use innovation to build and run businesses which solve the big challenges the world faces. Say goodbye to outdated innovation methods and hello to a revitalized approach.

Who Is Jens Heitland?

Jens Heitland is a Human Innovation & Leadership Enthusiast and the Founder of WE ARE SUCCEED. His mission is to inspire leaders to innovate the human way. So that we build and run businesses which solve the big challenges the world faces.

He started his career as an electrician on construction sites in Germany in 1997. From there on it was a constant growth curve, starting within the Facilities Service sector before he answered the calling of IKEA. Within his 11 years in IKEA he developed from local Team Leader in an IKEA store in Germany to Global Head of Innovation for IKEA Centres in the Headquarter in Sweden.

Next to the businesses he owns or co-founded, he hosts the Human Innovation Podcast where he connects innovation with leadership to human innovation.

Innovating Differently

We all love processes. They make us productive and diminish the overall risk of an organization malfunctioning. However, every time you add a layer to your process, you reduce your agility and ability to innovate – eventually, the organization begins to value process over new ideas. Yes, it’s good to have processes that make it easier to get the job done, but never at the expense of potentially better possibilities.

According to Jens, innovation is about seeing things differently. You can have the best systems, but if you don’t consider that there can be another way, there’s a high chance you’ll never grow. He adds that innovation in today’s world must be people-focused. You can facilitate endless creative workshops, but if, in the end, your people don’t buy into your objectives, then all of those efforts are simply a waste of time.

Why Leaders Who Micromanage Fail

A micromanager is a leader who just cannot let go. They want to know what their people are doing and won’t let them manage their own time. Nobody likes working for a boss who is constantly telling them how to do their job. So if you’re hiring the right people to begin with, micromanagement is not only unnecessary, it’s also counterproductive. Creative employees are unlikely to come up with new ideas if they’re constantly being told exactly how to do their job. 

Innovation is the key to business growth; micromanaging your team ruins any chance of that growth or progression. If you find yourself micromanaging, you have to have trust that your people can get the job done without your constant oversight. Letting go won’t be easy, but with more freedom, they will surprise you with their creativity, innovation, and productivity.

Navigating Change in the Workplace

If the only constant in life is change, then it would be best if we all learned how to change. But what does it mean to navigate change successfully, and what does that look like for our people? As Jens explains, nobody likes change; most people don’t even thrive within a changing environment. Although change is hard, it’s necessary for innovation. 

When you dig a little deeper, you find that people don’t like change because they were not involved in the first place. Change imposed on people out of the blue, with no time to prepare, is generally resisted. This is why leaders should resist the temptation to make changes in secret and then reveal them all at once. It’s far less consequential to plant seeds and get people involved as early as possible.

How to Create the Right Incentives For Innovation

If you’ve been in the corporate world for some time now, you will have seen scenarios where there was little to no incentive for employees to come up with new ideas. Managers only focused on delivering what was in their job description, which often had nothing to do with discovering new ways of doing things. 

Incentives for innovation is not about turning mission statements into inspirational posters. Instead, Jens believes it’s about taking action. It’s about developing programs that support growth and innovation. As a leader, you must develop a culture of improvement and reward employees when they come up with novel ideas. Yes, there’s peace that comes with having control over what your people do. But companies that don’t take the innovation risk often die off – think Kodak or Nokia.

Resources Mentioned In Show:


Jens on LinkedIn

Human innovation – The Jens Heitland Show