Innovation is easy, it’s the application of new solutions meeting new requirements for new and existing market needs. It’s accomplished through products, processes, services, technologies, and ideas readily available to markets, governments and society. Okay, easy as long as you are creative, courageous, bright, forward thinking, audacious, perceptive, brave, have an innovative culture within your company and have a last name that begins with J. Okay, maybe so not easy, but achievable, if the continuous need for change and improvement pushes all before it and becomes a catch cry for companies looking to embrace the new, no matter how effective. With this catch cry, comes the question, how many companies are innovating, how many are slowly dying, ambling along, not accomplishing anything because they don’t have the above skill set? The redundancy factor, not bringing out something new each quarter, has seen competitive pressure rise to unsustainable levels, where many companies are challenged by their lack of knowledge or enabled staff to keep up the innovation cycle.
Today a lot of innovation is focussed on personal technology and the value that focus brings in dollars earned and dollars traded, in companies such as Apple, Google and Tesla. Today innovation is focused on inventions making communication easier, entertaining us on the move or interrupting us at every opportunity to sell something new. It feels like a wave of innovation being ridden by a select few individuals with almost supernatural powers of invention, like Jonathan Ive of Apple, Diane Green of VMware and Google Cloud, John Banovitz of 3M, Jorey Ramer of Jump Tap and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors.
Yet innovation isn’t all about the end product and accumulating accolades and shares to make you wealthy, it’s about having the belief and confidence in yourself to bring about change. It’s about the ability to observe change and adapt solutions to make life easier. It can be a simple process to improve your mailroom, making it more efficient for everyone, it can be using better technology so meetings and the subsequent action items are collated quicker, providing shorter and more effective gatherings. It can be a raft of things speeding up, making things convenient, helping others do their job more efficiently and generally making the world a better place.
Innovation is about eyes wide open, having the courage to speak up and use what knowledge and information you have to improve. If someone within, had pointed out the folly of Blockbuster, so focused on market share and growing to 5000 stores at their peak, that a simple idea of sending DVDs by mail could totally disrupt their model, that person would have been hailed an innovator. Instead Reed Hastings of Netflix, upset over a $40 overdue rental fine, seized the moment and mailed out his first DVD. Even with this success, Hastings nearly suffered the same fate when streaming started to gain momentum. Luckily Netflix had the innovative culture to reinvent themselves as a viable cable and streaming competition to companies such as HBO.
So while companies voice the catch phrase loudly and try to keep up with the competition, there is still much that can be done individually, to be innovative and creative within your own sphere of influence. Be aware of the inefficiencies in your work life, be open minded and receptive to change, have the courage to speak up and never be daunted by failure.