Iteration is not just about improving products and services and customer intelligence and profitability—as important as those things are. It’s about improving our thinking. What most distinguishes highly successful innovators from those who struggle, is their skill at systematically revising their own mental models—at iterating what’s happening inside their heads.
The pounding that Goldman Sachs took at the very public hand of departing executive Greg Smith is exceeded only by the beating Smith took from Bloomberg, but Bloomber's readers (thankfully) aren't buying it...
How good are you at putting yourself into someone else's shoes? When you have an innovative idea, it's your responsibility to enable them to "get it." It's your challenge. And if you don’t have the empathy and the patience to help others see what you see, then you will likely fail to win the support you need...
The ability to see things through your customers’ eyes is definitely not something everyone can do. Some, like Steve Jobs, have been quite good at it. Others, like Netflix, completely missed the mark. How well do you really understand and empathize with your customers? How do you know?
For fishers and innovators, the critical capability isn’t knowing how to fish or having all the answers; it’s knowing how to go about finding the fish and discovering the answers we need. There are a number of important lessons about innovation that can be taken from fishing. Continuing my last post...
Permit me to draw an analogy between fishing and innovation, one that I think provides some important insights. We’ve all heard the old saw about giving someone a fish versus teaching them to fish. But there’s an added level of expertise that goes beyond teaching someone to fish—and it’s the same kind of expertise that innovation requires.
Singing is one of those skills that is difficult to evaluate in ourselves. We rely on feedback from others to determine how we’re doing. (Think of American Idol.) The personal capacity to innovate is a lot like that. It’s difficult to gain an accurate sense of our own creativity or analytical skills or insight. How often have you seen people either discount their creativity or exaggerate it? It’s quite common…and not just in singing competitions.
Most of us spend our lives pursuing knowledge when what we really need is insight. Throughout our education and our careers we strive to learn things that we hope will bring us success. While knowledge is certainly important, a great insight will beat it every time.
Expertise in the field of innovation, like any other expertise, can frequently become a hindrance to further progress. We get comfortable with what we know, what’s worked for us in the past, secure in the knowledge that has already brought us success—along with personal status and influence and income.
We know from extensive research that idea generation can be enhanced—sometimes dramatically—by the in-the-room strategies that are employed. We’ve learned how to leverage our creativity by getting people to think in certain ways (and stop thinking in certain ways), by adopting a certain mindset, a mindset that produces measurably better outcomes. But what about the mindset outside the room? The same level of creativity and spontaneity, of improvisation and exploration that fuels those ideas in the first place, is needed throughout the innovation cycle...and is often lacking.