Is innovation important? Is innovation critical to your organisation’s future survival?

Let me ask this a different way; is it more important to get the task you are doing done now or think of a better or faster way to it? I appreciate that in a stressful situation, this is not a helpful question, however, if you never take the time to think of a better way to do it, when will you?

If this describes you, you are currently an “exploiter”. You are using your current resources as you always have, trying to make the most out of them; you know how long they will last and how to use them. However, those resources will run out. If you don’t explore how to use those resources in a better way or find alternative resources, a crux point will be met at some stage in your journey. Hybrid cars and renewable energy sources were not seriously discussed or focused on until the reality dawned that fossil fuels are going to run out.

Explorer image courtesy of National Geographic

If you are currently a leader in your organisation, people are waiting for your move; they want to follow. So if it were me, I’d want some control of the situation, but perhaps you like thinking on your feet and seeing others do the same!

Here’s some tips on how to start being an “explorer” and raise innovation up the “importance” ladder:

  1. Begin to capture your problems, both big and little, that need to be solved. The more visible you can make the list the better.
  2. Pick one problem at the beginning of the day that you wish to solve. Throughout your day, think on how you could solve this through the day and capture thoughts.
  3. Start with smaller problems; you may get one thought that lessens the problem.
  4. Ask some friends or colleagues if they have an idea to solve your “small” problem. Different eyes tend to spot a different, often better, way.
  5. Repeat the above steps at least weekly, ideally daily.
  6. Share your ideas with others – they will have the same or similar problems.
  7. Watch what other organisations and sectors are up to and consider if their ideas could apply to you.

So back to you. Are you ready to make innovation a priority, showing that innovation is important to you? Are you ready to set aside some time to explore and stop only exploiting? As a wise man, Alan Robinson, author of “Ideas are Free”, once said to me:

“Never be too busy to find ways of being less busy.”