Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new order of things.” He was talking about politics and government but it applies equally well to any new venture. It is the universal experience of everyone who has ever tried: It’s not going to go exactly like you think it will. You will have to make adjustments.
We now live in a world in which not only our economic future, but our future security rests in large part on our creativity, our capacity to innovate. It’s yet another reason why strengthening our competence as innovators is such an imperative.
The way we drive (or should drive) is a good analogy for innovative thinking. Like a alert driver, great innovators are those who can see problems coming, who have a heightened sense of awareness and possibility. This is not just an on demand capability, but a sustained frame of mind. They’re proactively looking for potential improvements they can make and problems they can avoid.
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.
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.
In your business, are you trusting people to make good independent decisions—and providing the requisite resources to support those decisions? Are you willing to loosen up on command and control in order to foster collaboration and flexibility? Do you encourage an ongoing dialogue over how to best achieve your objectives? The degree to which you do those things will to a great degree determine your ability to innovate.