It’s easy for anyone to look back on an idea that has either succeeded or failed and draw conclusions about whether or not it was a good idea to pursue. The harder question is of course, “How does one know before an idea has succeeded or failed whether or not it’s worth pursuing?”
When we fail to think innovatively, it can have many negative consequences for businesses and careers and investments and economies. It can also be down right dangerous.
When we stop using our imagination and fail to constantly pursue fresh insights, frankly, we become a road hazard, a danger to both ourselves and our business. Sticking with the status quo may seem safe but in a changing marketplace it’s a strategy that’s almost certain to fail. Are you looking out the windshield or relying on what you see behind you?
Are you taking personal risks? Is your organization willing to take them? Innovation requires experimentation and experimentation requires that we risk failure. It can be scary but it’s necessary. Otherwise, we’re just confirming (or rationalizing) what we already think we know and that only takes us where we’ve already been.
Purpose is a frequently underrated component of the creative process. Yet it’s essential to both leadership and successful innovation. Is your purpose clear and compelling? Is it articulated in ways that encourage participation? Is it reinforced by your personal behaviors? A weak or poorly understood purpose will promote equally weak outcomes. Creativity answers the “How?” What it needs in order to get started is the “Why?”
We all know someone who has trouble accepting feedback (And that includes most of us at times). In those moments, what we lack is not just humility—the willingness to hear about our shortcomings. We also lack the confidence that allows us to comfortably accept that information without it taking too great of an emotional toll on us. Those with high levels of true self-confidence are more willing and able to accept feedback not less. The curse of low self-esteem is that it prevents us from accepting feedback and that robs us of the ability to learn from our experience.
Curiosity is arguably the single strongest driver behind innovation. It’s an abiding dissatisfaction with the status go that drives us to endlessly seek better answers and better ways and better ideas.
What might you accomplish if you gave yourself more time to reflect, more opportunities to experiment, more innovations to pursue? What could your organization achieve if everyone did that? How much more time could you create?
What are you doing to make sure you catch the coming wave of innovation in your business? What are your competitors soon going to be doing that you’d better be doing too? Such trends can be extremely difficult to predict but when they hit you have to be ready for them.