There’s a clever little word that’s tossed around the media. It's positioned as “the answer” to all of our economic woes. It remains an elusive mystery that most businesses are either trying to crack, have thrown in the towel on or for the few lucky few – have figured it out.
I’m talking of course about Innovation. Without it your business will decline – how slowly or quickly depends upon where you are on the curve. Innovation has been defined in many ways. For clarity, it is not exclusively “over the top inventions”. Essentially it’s about adding more value. That could be through streamlining processes to reduce costs or improving or augmenting a current offering.
While there is no magic pill or silver bullet that will transform your organization, what is clear is that Innovation is a team sport. It takes a culture that is not afraid to fail. It includes those on the front line as well as managers and leaders. And it is a behaviour and skill that can be created, nurtured and developed. As for the skill part, below is a starting point on four key elements of innovation.
Observe: Study objects, space, services and people. Train yourself to become a conscious observer of life. This simple practice brings to the forefront previously unidentified needs. The Swiffer was a bi-product of watching people clean their floors and the frustrations of sweeping and scooping and the inability to get into hard to reach places.
Pattern Read: Find the commonalities to make sense of the complex and the confusion. Begin to segment your findings by categorizing and sub-categorizing information. Create context – models and frameworks – to make sense of all your content.
Convert: Problems into opportunities. Is a customer or employee frustrated? Breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs. Make “there’s got to be a better way” your corporate mantra and find solutions where it seems none existed and reap the rewards by getting customers and employees for life.
Synthesize: New ideas from seemingly disparate fragments. Pull it all together; cross pollinate ideas from multiple sources. Learn to become a master collaborator. The rewards will far outweigh the effort.
Innovation is mindset, a discipline, a craft that can be mastered. That's of course once a system and systems of thinking have been put into place and practiced every day until they become habitual.
And if you want to learn more check out Change by Design by Tim Brown.