Innovation

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” — Peter F. Ducker

Innovation is the creation, development and implementation of a new product, process or service, with the aim of improving efficiency, effectiveness or competitive advantage.”

What I would say to anyone who’s looking for answers to how innovation happens is that it’s not rocket science. It’s often about approaching an issue with the curiosity and open mind of a child. But the day-to-day grind of the modern work environment can zap that kind of creativity. Innovation, like a garden, won’t grow on its own. We need to plant seeds and treat them with care, to create not just a garden but an ecosystem. That’s the kind of innovation that sustains and regenerates itself. Innovation is a mind-set, not a technology, or a product, or a solution. And it requires time, commitment, and investment.

If innovation could be achieved simply through vision statements, press releases, or rally cries, we’d all be successful at it. But developing a strategy and mind-set that enables creative thinking to percolate takes much more work than that.

Telling people to “be innovative” doesn’t create a culture that embraces new ideas.

Dedicate a budget.

Define and communicate desired behaviours.

Host an idea competition and celebration.

Show tolerance for risk.

Customer immersion labs, rapid prototyping, social media dashboards — these are just a few of the digital tools that your company may be using, or considering using, to improve its innovation performance. Using survey data collected from executives at more than 350 companies worldwide, the graphic shows which tools are most widely used and which are working most effectively (and as you’ll see, the two don’t always go hand-in-hand). You can also read real-life applications from companies such as Caterpillar, Aetna, and Salesforce.com that demonstrate how digitization has enhanced their R&D efforts. The lesson from this year’s study is clear: For those still thinking about dipping a toe in the water when it comes to digital innovation tools, now is the time to act.

Often the greatest learning and innovating takes place when we step outside of our comfort zones and stretch into our yikes zone.

Don’t be afraid to discover your yikes zone. In fact, once you’ve gone into this exciting new place, you should be more reluctant to stay in your comfort zone. Push yourself. Maybe you are tasked with leading a new initiative that you aren’t sure how to tackle. Or you know that in order to successfully complete a project, you will have to take on new skills, or a lengthy and detailed timeline of tasks, or you will need to delegate and trust others. Breaking the imposing task down into doable pieces is likely to be your best opportunity for learning, growing, and innovating.

Step into your “yikes zone,” then break anxiety-producing and overwhelming tasks into small, doable pieces.

Be Smart! Be Positive! Be Innovative!

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