Innovation Is A Phenomenon, Not A Strategy
Innovation isn’t something you do; it is something that happens – a result. To be “innovative” you have to focus on the things that create that result, not the result itself.
We can’t directly control what is considered innovative no more than a director can guarantee their movie will be Oscar Award-winning or an ad agency can get their video to go viral. But, we can do the things that typically lead to winning an Oscar or going viral. A great script, a great cast, great directing, great cinematography, an amazing score, great effects, clever editing, remarkability, etc.
So is it with innovation. If we stop our focus on the after result, we can focus on the things that go into “being” innovative and make sure we get them right.
So, what are these things? They are what I call the practical steps to innovation. A flow and process that will make sure you’re doing the things that lead to developing innovations.
Plan → Champion → Implement → Monitor (again)
This process is a chain. An assembly line, where the output of one process is sent to the next… The reason many companies fail at being innovative is because they’re either skipping a step or doing a poor job in a stage. And we know any chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Keeping an eye on your business horizon. Constantly monitor your company, the competition, your industry, and related industries. Consumer insights, trend reports, industry overseas. All this is your raw data.
You don’t monitor simply for the sake of monitoring. Try to spot changes, shifts, indicators, and emerging trends. News of relevant upcoming technology or report of a change in consumer preferences should get you excited and alert. This is making meaning of all the data.
When you notice a change, problem or opportunity, you should put it in perspective of what it means to you.
Using the objectives defined above, pick existing solutions or generate new ideas to meet the objectives.
Decide On Solution
Hopefully, you’ve got at least three options generated above. Choose which best satisfies the objective.
Craft Your Plan
Write down the milestones, actions, and tasks as well as the leads and budgets needed to successfully carry out the solution.
Be the Champion
“Ideas are only as fragile the backbone behind them.” You’ve got to create a culture where different and novel isn’t considered scary or too risky. (Else your big ideas get whittled down to wimpy improvements). You’ve got to guide these innovative ideas through to funding, support and implementation.
I know it sounds obvious… but this is doing it. And, doing it properly. Implementing is also about sticking with a project or program and seeing it through. Don’t let the lack of patience be misinterpreted as lack of success. Too often, we don’t see an overnight result and declare it a failure.
Now that you’ve got a program going, you need to add it to the things you’re tracking. Sometimes you’ll notice you need to course correct. That’s great – monitoring will allow you to make those minor adjustments versus sitting back and finding out that you’re not successful, and it’s too late to do anything about it.
To Put Too Fine A Point On It
These ideas need to go beyond creating an improvement – that is simply making something better. They need to be different. They also need to be more than invention – simply creating something. Innovation is better and novel. Innovation is remarkable – literally worth being remarked about.
By following each step you: see changes as they come proactively move to action; build and implement a plan around an idea that is different, better, novel and remarkable.
While declaring something an innovation is ultimately up to the audience, in using this flow, you will have performed all the right steps to generate the right conditions to create an innovation.