The future of your business depends not on doing the same as everyone else but on being different. In the future it will be the innovative businesses that succeed while the laggards will eventually disappear…
Stop Being Incremental
Incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy. All businesses around the world are reaching the limits of incremental change – squeezing another penny out of costs, getting a product to market a few weeks earlier, responding to customers’ enquiries a little bit faster, ratcheting quality up one more notch, capturing another point of market share. These are the obsessions of managers today. But pursuing incremental improvements, while rivals reinvent the industry, is like fiddling while Rome burns.
Start looking for large-step change in how you do things. Constant small improvements may no longer be enough. Look at entire redesign of what you do and how you do it. And look at it through the customers’ eyes.
Incremental change creates goals that are slightly stretching. We just try harder to deliver a little bit more. But maybe the original model is at fault. When we seek large, quantum-step-change improvements then we release our creativity. Incremental goals do not challenge or stimulate our creativity.
In business, non-challenging goals create non-creative solutions. Goals need to be challenging to get us thinking creatively.
Left-Brain – Right-Brain Thinking
The left-hand hemisphere of the brain predominantly looks after logic, words, parts and specifics – in short, analysis – and is time-bound. It is the preferred thinking style of men. The right-hand hemisphere looks after emotions and rhythm, pictures, wholes and relationships, synthesis and is time-free. It is the preferred thinking style of women. Maybe this explains some of the difference between male and female managers!
The world we live in is essentially left- brain dominated: words, measurement and logic have been enthroned; creativity,
intuition and artistry have been demoted to second position. It is argued that we live in a world that has been dominated by the masculine. Male-type, left-brain thinking has focused on the numbers. Right-brain thinking, creativity, has taken a back seat.
In any business we need a combination of the two thinking styles. For instance, we need the analytical number-crunching to assess the problem. We also need the creativity of the right-side of the brain to find original solutions. Ideally, what one would strive for is not the dominance of one over the other, but a balance where the two can complement each other.
Remove Self-limiting Beliefs
What’s holding us back is our own belief in ourselves. Think dull narrow-minded defeatist thoughts and see what happens. Think crazy thoughts and see what happens. Your job is to play with the boundaries rather than within the boundaries that we create for ourselves. What is holding us back is ourselves. Choose powerful not limiting mindsets.
The Foundations for Innovation
1. Make it fun.
2. Listen to your customers and what they want –focus on giving them something extraordinary rather than the ordinary.
3. Don’t just talk about it – create prototypes so that others can see and touch what you are talking about – strike while the iron is hot.
4. Be clear about who you are targeting and make sure your innovation will deliver the ‘promise’, and is easy to understand. 5. Beware of the enemy within – the pessimists will always try and defeat your enthusiasm and focus on your fear of failure.
Checklist for Innovation
• Never underestimate the power of ‘helicopter thinking’ – look at the issues from above
• Focus on quantum-step changes rather than incrementalism
• Visualise the future – use your imagination to create how things could be • Communicate your vision, drive and enthusiasm to those you work with.
Checklist – Individual Characteristics of an Effective Innovator
To be an effective innovator, you need to:
• Be clear about what you want to achieve • Define the project aims and benefits
• Be a champion for the project in the eyes of all around you
• Have the courage to take some risks
• Have confidence to make mistakes and learn from them
• Be good at motivating and mobilising others
• Have the persistence to maintain momentum.
1. Which of the factors that your industry assumes as standard could be eliminated?
2. Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?
3. Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
4. Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?
Being innovative can be frightening. You are asking yourself to go into uncharted territory and there are no guarantees of success. The choice, however, is pretty stark. You cannot afford to sit still and allow the competition to steal the lead on you. More and more, wealth is gained from innovation rather than from optimisation; wealth is not gained from perfecting the known but rather from perfecting the unknown.
Words By Robert Craven