The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.
-- Frank Lloyd Wright

 

   

The MONTHLY Motivator - January 2005

Innovation

In today’s world, no one succeeds by simply maintaining the status quo. To prosper and achieve great things, innovation is an absolute requirement.

We’re living in a time when almost anything is possible, facilitated by stunning advances in technology and the dynamic of a pervasive, worldwide free marketplace. When anything is possible, innovation is a necessity. In a world with few limitations, you must be careful not to shackle yourself with limiting assumptions and outdated concepts. In an environment where new opportunities arise on a daily basis, it is incumbent upon you to seize those opportunities, and make the most of them through constant innovation. Because your competitors surely will.

What is innovation?

Innovation is creativity put into practice. Sure, it’s great to be creative, and innovation certainly demands creativity. Yet, for bottom line results, creativity is not enough. Innovation is applied creativity. Innovation uses creative ideas to solve real problems and to produce real value.

Innovation is goal-oriented, and as such, it requires a clear sense of purpose and direction. The best innovators are visionaries, who can see opportunity and devise imaginative ways to capitalize on that opportunity -- people who can never get rid of the constant nagging feeling that “there’s got to be a better way.” Just knowing exactly what you want, and where you’re going, will improve your ability to innovate. A well-defined purpose will provide your natural innovative abilities with a clear context in which to operate.

Knowing precisely where you want to go, allows you to work backwards from the future, to determine the steps that will get you there. Just this change in thinking is vastly more innovative than trying to extrapolate forward from the present.

Innovation demands a purpose, for without a purpose it is just speculation. When you know exactly what you want to accomplish, your mind will naturally offer many innovative ways to get you there.

Innovation is not a one-time event. The best innovation is of a consistent, ongoing nature. This requires commitment to living and working in such a way that will make innovation an integral part of everything you do.

Don’t try too hard

Innovation can rarely be forced. The way to cultivate innovation is not by earnestly trying to “be innovative.” Such an approach presupposes that you’re not innovative, and creates a mindset that actually opposes innovation. The way to innovation is through living and thinking in such a way as to enable your mind, which is already innovative, ample opportunity to do its thing.

Imagine sitting down at a meeting and announcing, “OK. Let’s come up with an innovative solution to the problem. Anybody have any ideas?”

What happens? Well, you might get some ideas, but they won’t be very innovative, or very useful. The more you chase innovation, the more it eludes you. The better approach would be to start asking open-ended questions, and give innovation an environment in which to happen. Things such as:


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—Ralph Marston