Tuesday, August 28, 2007

 

Why innovation is so hard

Had coffee with a wickedly smart consultant last week, whose focus & passion is helping companies unlock their ability to be truly innovative.

Small and/or new companies often have an easier time being innovative, usually because the decision-making infrastructure is far smaller, and the company was likely built on a new, innovative idea to begin with.

Larger companies often struggle more with sustaining innovation, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. Unlocking innovation in any company means many things, including the a culture that rewards new ideas, accepts failure as a means of finding innovation, and constantly injects the company - at all levels - with opportunities to discover new ideas.

Each one of us, no matter where we work, gets complacent. We take too much for granted, and make too many assumptions. It's not our fault, really, just the reality of doing something every day, from the inside, with an insider's point of view.

Key to turning complacency into innovation is surrounding ourselves with resources that challenge our assumptions, to help us think about things in a dramatically new way.

Sometimes that means hiring consultants who bring fresh perspectives. Sometimes it's as simple as reading what others are thinking, or hiring fresh minds into your business who bring their own experiences and worldview to work against your current challenge.

Simply being aware of your inability to constantly be innovative on your own is a big first step. Surrounding yourself with the resources to explore and unleash your innovation potential is harder, but well worth the effort.

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