Successful innovation is remarkably like reverse engineering. But instead of applying that strategy to an existing product or technology, it’s applied to an imagined future state.
Finding ways to overcome our assumptions and varying from standard practice puts us on a path to high value breakthroughs. Yet that’s where we often encounter the greatest resistance.
There are proven techniques that get around these problems, approaches that encourage decentralized independent decisions, which are more accurately predictive, and boost engagement and commitment as well. These approaches emphasize differing perspectives and resist the temptation to force consensus (and the mediocrity that often entails).
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.
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?”
What is it about goals that makes them such a valuable tool? The simplistic answer is, “So you know where you’re going.” Certainly, any leader needs to have objectives. But a more enlightening answer to the “Why?” question is: Because defined outcomes provide clarity.
An idea campaign may be a great idea—and there are some great technologies available to help you launch and administer one. But it’s just as important to launch an innovation culture campaign. One that will help your people better understand how to think and work creatively.
With innovation, the odds favor the gambler. The longer you play, the more likely you are to win. Each calculated risk that fails, if carefully evaluated and used to learn, brings us closer to a successful solution, by teaching us what won’t work and hinting at what does. It’s those who stop gambling, who fail to experiment long enough and often enough, who give up too soon, who lose.
Anyone can become a successful innovator, but some of us are more predisposed to creative change than others. Ironically, companies tend to stack the deck against their own innovation efforts by predominantly hiring those who are most conformist and most competent at doing what’s already being done, rather than those who embrace new ideas.