Great innovators are nothing if not imaginative. Imaginative in coming up with new ideas. Imaginative in finding ways to explore and test and implement those ideas. Imaginative in how they observe the world around them and gain awareness. Imaginative in how they make sense of those observations. They do not just invent new possibilities. [...]
When it comes to driving innovation, the single most important consideration is mindset—the mindset of those attempting to achieve innovation, and the mindset of those they encounter. No matter what the innovation challenge may be, it is issue number one and the single greatest factor in determining success or failure. That’s a claim many [...]
When it comes to determining whether something is a successful innovation, there is one absolutely crucial test: Does it create value? That value may come in many forms. Usefulness for the customer, profits for a company, or social good for a nonprofit, but it must be there. Creating value isn’t always enough to produce [...]
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 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...
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.
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.
As we begin this new year, how personally committed to innovation are you? What are you dissatisfied with enough to muster the courage to change it? Which do you value more, serenity or courage?
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.