Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Are you innovative? "Yes" is the typical answer of most people, according to my experience. They might be right. But does it make sense in general?
Innovation is an omnipresent topic in many companies and industries. Today, almost nobody can probably afford to state that he or she isn't innovative without automatically destroying their career prospects. Innovation is also an essential subject in marketing and corporate communication. Companies want to be perceived as a relevant part of the future. So, they also need to be regarded as innovative.
The scenario looks a bit different from the customer's perspective: Ask yourself what is new of the products and services of companies you have been knowing for a couple of years. Of course, there are slight changes, and sometimes improvements. But what is really new in a helpful or at least surprising way? It's often hard to tell. And that is the reality in many industries.
So, innovating, in the meaning of turning ideas into an innovation that solves a problem or enriches people's lives, doesn't seem to happen in abundant ways.
In companies, people often complain that they would innovate if the company would let them and support their efforts. That is probably true in many cases. But it raises further questions: Why do they stay in a particular job or company? Are their ideas as promising as they assume? How can any company afford not to support employees with good proposals?
In general, people underestimate that innovation means change. I stated and explained this many times before. You not only pursue changes in markets, products, services, processes, technology, and organizations. You have to be able to change yourself. And changing oneself is probably one of the most challenging things for humans. But else, you won't become innovative.
"The only thing that is constant is change" is a famous quote by Heraclitus. It has been a trendy slogan. Unfortunately, for many people, it stays just that: a stylish slogan. In various areas, modern software technology has become pretty good at analyzing and even predicting human behavior. A simple reason is that human behavior often follows patterns that machine learning or artificial intelligence algorithms can learn. But it also gives you an impression of how much or better little people change. If you remember that innovation means change, you won't expect too much.
Of course, this can be dramatically different when people are forced to change, for example, by a global crisis. Suddenly, work processes run digitally, which have been considered as impossible to be digitized before. Some organizations have wasted years and decades in arguing about this. Fortunately, such a crisis doesn't occur that often. Therefore, people usually should initiate and drive innovation themselves based on their own set of motivations.
I've experienced very innovative and non-innovative phases in my life. Of course, I prefer the state of having exciting ideas and turning them into promising innovations. I developed effective strategies and tools for people to become more innovative. I have been using them myself.
Let's return to my question from the beginning: Are you innovative?
To truly get an idea of how innovative you are, ask yourself these questions:
How many ideas did you have last week?
How many of them are more than a slight improvement of what already exists?
How many of them belong to the category "breakthrough," "groundbreaking," or "disruptive"?
Have you taken any action on any of those ideas?
Have you worked on at least one innovation last month?
Have you created at least one innovation in the previous six months?
Have you ever worked on an innovation that belonged to the category "breakthrough," "groundbreaking," or "disruptive"?
Have you ever created an innovation that belonged to the class "breakthrough," "groundbreaking," or "disruptive"?
Would you like to become more innovative? Visit www.mindset-for-innovation.com.
Sources and Recommendations
Heraclitus Quotes. In Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/77989.Heraclitus
Thiebus, Sven (March 19, 2020). Crisis: Time to Innovate. https://www.thiebus.com/post/crisis-time-to-innovate
Thiebus, Sven (January 15, 2020). The 1 Thing That Makes The Difference in Innovation. https://www.thiebus.com/post/the-1-thing-that-makes-the-difference-in-innovation
Thiebus, Sven (October 07, 2019). 3 Reasons You Might Want to Change Your Watch to Foster Innovation in Your Company. https://www.thiebus.com/post/3-reasons-you-might-want-to-change-your-watch-to-foster-innovation-in-your-company