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.
“There are no atheists in fox holes,” the old saw goes. It’s an assertion that no doubt offends atheists, who I assume hold their beliefs with the same conviction as anyone else. I have a similar observation to make about innovation (one that I don’t think will offend anyone): There are no unbelievers among innovators.
One of the principal challenges any innovator faces is persuading others of the value of an idea. It is a frequent source of frustration and angst, and an absolutely essential innovation skill.
On this Independence Day here in the U.S. there is perhaps no more appropriate time to be writing about innovation. Our founding fathers (and less-credited founding mothers) were unquestionably among the greatest innovators of all time.
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.
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?”