When you think about innovation, what comes to mind? The iPhone? Driverless cars? Or do you think of things that were once considered innovative, such as the humble toaster?
Innovation is all around us and comes in all shapes and sizes. However innovation isn’t just about products. It relates to ideas, methods and processes. It can be simple or complex.
Innovation can also come from unlikely sources. It’s easy to see innovation as solely sourced from people who are creative and inventive, but we can all be innovative.
There are two ends to the spectrum. Simple innovation is about making things better, while more radical innovation, or what Clayton Christensen (author of The Innovator’s Dilemma) would call disruptive innovation, is about making things that people have yet to realise they need/want. It is this type of innovation that disrupts industries and changes how they work.
Less complex innovation is something we can all contribute to. We can all find ways to do things better or to approach things from a different angle. It’s a crucial mindset to adopt if you want to be an influential leader.
If your mindset is telling you “I’m not innovative”, then you’ll miss the opportunity to see what could be different. You won’t take the time to ponder on what ‘could be’, as you’ll be satisfied with ‘what is’.
In a world that is constantly changing, it’s important to be open to what is new. This also means you need to be comfortable to search for what is new and could be done better.
This is what making progress is all about.
Making progress comes in different ways. You can reinvent, tweak around the edges, improve the process or start from scratch. The possibilities are vast.
Often when people come up with new ideas it is because they looked for a solution to something that really annoyed them, they were curious, or they simply saw a better way to do something.
For example, in the 1940s a Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, invented Velcro. It was a day-to-day activity of walking in the Alps that ultimately resulted in an invention that is still used today. He paid attention and he was curious. He saw how burrs stuck to his clothing and his dog’s fur when walking in the Alps and then took that curiosity one step further.
Consider in your day-to-day work:
- What frustrates you at work?
- What are you curious about?
- Where are the pain points in your everyday work process?
- What could be done better or differently?
- What are your competitors doing that you’re not?
Making improvements in organisations isn’t easy. In many respects, it can be easier to sit back and wait for someone else to do it. Why? Because it requires you to take a risk and be ready for failure – as things may not go according to plan. It also requires patience and persistence.
As Brene Brown, the author of multiple books including the fantastic book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ said: “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”
Influential leaders are ready for the challenge. They recognise that it won’t be easy, but they know that the upside is that the improvements eventually secured will make things better for their team, stakeholders, customers and ultimately the organisation.
Of course, the great by-product is that it will also boost their reputation as a leader.
Getting you ready for tomorrow, today®
Michelle Gibbings is bringing back the happy to workplace culture. The award-winning author of three books, and a global keynote speaker, she’s on a mission to help leaders, teams and organisations create successful workplaces – where people thrive and progress is accelerated.