Three Steps to Innovation

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Every company wants to harness the power of innovation, but “innovation” is one of those words like motivation, inspiration, and concentration – how do you really know when you’ve got it?

 

Innovation Can Be a Puzzle

Fortunately, there is a way to put innovation in motion within your company, team or organization.

While innovation may be hard to identify or define,

the results  of  innovation inclue:

  • new methods and processes 
  • new products and services
  • new business ideas and new investments

Here are some quick steps to getting the recognition you deserve for your innovative ideas:

  1. iPad and InnovationYour innovation must be counter-intuitive – innovation starts outside of the norm.  Beyond the status quo is an idea that challenges the way things are now. Starting with a context of how things are, you’ve got to ask yourself, “How could things be better?”  Many entrepreneurs have built businesses based on answering this simple question, first on a personal basis and then for their customers.  The first time that Steve Jobs demonstrated the swipe features on the iPad, the innovation was wildly counterintuitive.  Now, the method of “swipe-pinch-magic” is almost a part of everyone’s DNA.  Defining the idea was counter-intutive, but the ultimate execution for us as consumers is now natural, predictable and expected.  New initiatives often begin with a counter-intuitive solution – combined with an intuitive delivery mechanism.
  2. Your innovation must be unexpected – if everyone is already doing it, how can it really be innovative?  Every shift towards innovation is, at some level, unexpected.  That’s part of the definition of innovation; yet, how and where do we find the unexpected?  Innovation can’t be predicted, it simply exists – but where does innovation come from? Perhaps it comes from wherever it is now – and that would be inside of you.  Are you equipped to create the unexpected? Yes! That’s the great news – human beings have an infinite capacity for new thought. You may deny or reject those new thoughts, but they are there for you, in unexpected ways, if you know how to connect. But the unexpected is scary: Business is a process, and unexpected results can often have a negative impact.  Solve this challenge with an unexpected solution:  consider how you might reward innovation, and how you can provide time for employees to exercise their creative juices on the same old problems.  If your company is focused solely on “turning the crank” (in other words, just maintaing the current processes), where’s the room for continuous improvement?
  3. Your innovation must be surprising – even a 3% change in efficiency can be a welcome surprise.  Great innovation doesn’t have to create some sort of seismic shift in your business.  Step by step, innovation can improve your business and your profitability in surprising ways – but even little surprises can have a big impact!  Soliciting employee feedback (sometimes referred to as “a potential bitch session” – yes, the quality of your survey will make a difference!) with a professional facilitator can add new ideas and new strategies.  Don’t save surprises for birthdays and Christmas – cultivate an atmosphere of meaningful change, with help from an outside consultant.  Taking one day for a retreat or offsite session can create some very positive surprises, indeed.

 

How does your company cultivate innovation? And, what do you do (on an individual basis) to make sure that you never stop thinking of new ideas, and new ways of tackling the same old problems?

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