If you are anything like me, you find it
easy to get stuck in a rut when focused on a particular project. Yet, it
is so important to us personally and professionally to pause
periodically, “step out of out box”, and really reflect on what we are
doing. Are we working in the most effective manner possible? Are we
providing the value our organizations need to remain competitive? Most
importantly, are we “pushing the envelope” to create new and interesting
products or services, or better ways of doing business?
finished reading the results of a survey of technology companies in
Asia. The top 2 challenges identified in sustaining their growth (44% of
the responses) were: competitive products and developing and bringing
new products to market. Can you say innovation? While this survey was
conducted in 2004, the challenge in these two areas certainly isn’t
diminishing. Further, I don’t believe this sentiment is limited to
technology companies – those in every market segment are feeling the
competitive pressure to innovate, as well as consumers’ demands for more
unique and personalized products.
how to we go about encouraging innovation in our organizations? Below
are a couple of ideas you can use in your organization to stimulate
ideas. Keep in mind, however, that innovation can no longer be treated
as the “philosophy de jour” – it must be made an integral part of the
organizational culture, and even the very business processes themselves.
recently read a suggestion that I found interesting in encouraging
people to thing “big”. That is, think in terms of the desired result
times a factor of ten. While the actual numbers derived as result may be
unrealistic, the freedom to imagine how one would accomplish such a feat
can often provide additional insights to solutions/products/innovation
that would otherwise be missed. Don’t set your sights on the goal – look
Try something new
daughter brought home an interesting homework assignment near the end of
the school year. Her teacher challenged her to stretch her horizons by
doing something she has never done before. This challenge was also given
a sense of urgency in that the assignment had to be completed within 3
interesting how quickly we launched into a brainstorming session to
generate ideas of what she could do – and do quickly. The only rule was
that it had to be something unrelated to anything she had done before.
We considered everything from a new cooking technique, to trying a new
sport, to a new kind of book to read, to a new place to explore.
Companies often use brainstorming techniques to generate ideas and
solutions to problems. I found that the challenge of this homework
assignment not only required creative thinking regarding the selection
of what new experience she wanted, but additionally, the experience of
actually performing the selected task provided stimulus, as she was
exposed to a new and different environment and new experiences.
- consider challenging yourself this summer to do something you’ve never
done before. Pay attention to how this changes the way you look at life,
and leverage the creativity from the experience to add new life to your
Challenge your assumptions
When wrestling with a problem, we are often
told to “challenge your assumptions”. What does this mean? How do you go
Consider putting yourself in someone else’s
shoes – and really stretch yourself. If you’re dealing with a customer
service problem, don’t just put yourself in the place of the customer.
Pretend you are in an industry totally unrelated – perhaps an auto
mechanic, a veterinarian, or a biomedical engineer. How would that
person solve the same problem in the context of their world? Often,
mentally placing ourselves in another place and environment can generate
new ways of looking at a situation.
I would love to hear how you encourage
innovation in your company – I’ll share the best ideas in a future
Change or Die!
The Best Defense
is a Great Offense