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?
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.
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?
Many of us are not well positioned to gain fresh insights and make new discoveries. We’re not in the right mindset and as Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” So even when we’ve made all the other choices that set us up to innovate, we still have a gap.
What are you doing to make sure you catch the coming wave of innovation in your business? What are your competitors soon going to be doing that you’d better be doing too? Such trends can be extremely difficult to predict but when they hit you have to be ready for them.
What drives innovation (and success generally) is not what someone already knows, but what they’re capable of inventing or discovering, what new insights they can acquire. It’s a willingness to treat existing knowledge as a source of possibilities, rather than conclusions.
Life is not a multiple-choice test and neither is business. The insights we need are not found in brief lists of options. Knowing what worked last time isn’t the same as knowing how to face a new challenge or find a new solution. It doesn’t give someone the courage to experiment, or the confidence to chart a new path. Indeed, the surest way to short circuit innovative thinking is to conclude that you already have the answer.
Are you creating the sort of innovation-friendly environment that generates and implements attractive ideas? You need to be, because the ability to become a source of great new ideas is your most critical business asset—in the insight economy.