Centuries ago, kings and other royalty had many “yes-men” by their side. The ‘yes men’ played an important role; they simply reinforced the kings choices. But the wisest kings employed fools who had special permission to make fun of and criticize the king’s policies without fear.
Present day CEOs have “yes-men,” but they are in dire need of someone to give them an honest opinion, someone who can tell those in the royal boardroom that the old ways are no longer effective and that innovation is how to make money.
Embrace Innovative “Disasters”
Innovation can occur where you least expect it. Imagine a scientist is trying to produce super fast glue. He tries and tries, but the glue just does not stick. His product is a complete disaster. Or is it? Every office in the world now has glue that does not stick in the traditional way.
If the scientist had rethought the meaning of stick… perhaps he needed to redefine the question. “How do I join two thinks together quickly?” The scientist, who worked at 3M, had just invented the raw material for the PostIt® note. While using it for a different purpose he invented a new soltion. The PostIt note is now one of the most profitable products at 3M.
Even Christopher Columbus, one of the great innovators of his time, could not have been much further from his intended destination of India when he discovered America. But that “disaster” delivered to the civilized world what we now regard as the land of opportunity.
So even though the results you get may not be what you expected, continue to think creatively and the product of that process will be INNOVATION.
Disasters can sometimes become rare opportunities, and unintended results may very well bring you an unexpected gift.
Look for Inspiration Everywhere
Think creatively everywhere. (You can start the process by asking WHAT IF….) Think when you are out walking, when you are in the shower, when you are listening to a boring speaker. Switch your mind off and think about that problem that has been bugging you. Don’t bother with contrived brainstorming sessions and working parties, because you cannot plan to create on demand. But you can organize your mind to be constantly receptive to new ideas wherever you happen to be.
Plan Your Luck
Chance discoveries do not really occur by chance. Rather, an environment must be one that allows new ideas to be conceived, recognized for their potential contribution, expanded into tailor-made solutions, and then finally developed into products for other customers. And the best way to arrive at innovative solutions is to use innovative thinking.
To that end, encourage your employees to ask questions; such as, “Why do we do it this way?” And ask them to answer the question, then quickly ask again…WHAT IF….
The important next step for management is to be open to the wild conjectures that accompany real creative thinking.
Remember, in a truly creative culture NOTHING IS EVER WRONG. Some ideas simply work better than others.
Nurture new ideas and welcome the questions as a way to open the channels of communication and keep the stream of possible solutions flowing.
Beware of Leaks
Given that most of the marketplace is busy chasing each other’s tails creating “me too” products and services, genuinely new ideas are hard to come by and very difficult to patent, the shortest route to new ideas can be to get them from someone else. We encourage you to be alert to the possibility that others may be listening to the new idea you are sharing with someone. An idle sentence may just provide the missing ingredient to a competitor’s research and development department. Where innovation is concerned, keep quiet and keep your ears open, because you too may obtain problem-solving ideas from other markets or businesses. In your own office, beware of boastful types. A surprising number of people proudly broadcast details of their firm’s research and innovation.
And, those who leak the most information are usually higher up on the corporate ladder.
Perhaps one key to successful innovation is skillful ego massaging. That is, share your ideas, but use caution when choosing who you share them with.
Think Creatively , then Innovate!
Innovation requires more than creative thinking. It is also dependent on the development of ideas into products and services to keep your company shifting as SHIFTHAPPENS. And that takes true determination. In the end, your determination to succeed is the ultimate stimulus for achievement. Although many people can create with innovative concepts, only those who are determined to implement those ideas achieve success. Once you nurture your ideas into being, charge ahead with the innovative spirit that all successful companies possess.
Remember that innovation combines effort and timing, and capitalizes on our desire to be first. Using this approach, your business has very opportunity to achieve success.