Creating something new – whether in terms of changing the status quo or something more modest like changing the way a business or organizational process works – cannot happen by thinking the same way about the same things. How do naturally creative people like artists, photographers, designers get their new ideas? It seems they mash up images, sounds, objects in seemingly mundane places to generate new ideas. Managers can learn from this and here are three steps to innovation.
Stop being yourself for a while – if this is possible – and put yourself in the shoes of your client or those you serve. Get to know as much about them as possible. Immerse yourself in their world if you can. Find out what their priorities are. You may find that what they need is not what you thought they wanted.
Look for New Questions, Not New Answers
Searching for answers assumes you have been asking the right questions. Go one step back and look for new questions to ask. This might require a re-think of basic assumptions about your business and your offerings. Are you in the right market? Are these the clients you should be serving anyway? Are your products compelling enough?
Having an idea in your head and being impressed with it is not impressive. This is you being judge and jury all by yourself. Get a prototype, a pilot, a Phase 1 offering, whatever you want to call it and show it to your clients to seek their views. Let them comment and provide their inputs then use these to iterate to a new version.
Innovation is not always a quantum breakthrough; it is also an iteration from the ordinary to the extraordinary.