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Blog - Do you think like an Innovator?

Blog - Do you think like an Innovator?

“Innovation is both super simple and super complicated. Super simple because anyone, anywhere can innovate. Complicated because it is not a thing, nor a process or a project: it is a culture. Large organizations will often launch programs that will require every employee to become an innovator. But few people have what it takes to deal with the uncertainties and risks that come with innovation.” Laurent Haug

Contrary to what some people might have you believe, innovative thinking is not the exclusive domain of folks like Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. Innovation is something that everyone can master with a healthy serve of commitment, attitude, drive and chutzpah.

Although there are layers of complexity to innovation – like accessing capital, the importance of observation and data, networking and mentoring etc. – in this article, we’re looking at how successful innovators think in order to stay ahead of their competitors and enjoy the view from the top of the pyramid.

Rather than obsessing about finding that one killer idea, it’s important to understand that innovative thinking is more of a culture and a mind-set – it’s about re-framing your approach to looking at the world, identifying ways that things might be done better and understanding that set-backs, uncertainties and even failure go hand-in-hand with innovation and driving change.

Creating a culture that has a genuine capacity to embrace innovative thinking is vital, according to Australian-based business strategist and renowned authority on innovative thinking, Steve Tighe. He argues that having a thorough understanding of your business (or yourself) is essential for identifying the opportunities for innovation. 

“Understanding the shape of change and understanding your business’ identity go hand-in-hand,” says Steve. “Have a crystal-clear understanding of the reasons your business exists. There’s no point in being able to identify future trends if you have a very narrow sense of your organisation’s ‘self’ because that will just restrict you to doing what you’ve always done and almost guarantee that opportunities to innovate are overlooked. Be able to answer questions about your business with clarity; who are we, and what business are we in?”

Steve also believes it’s essential your organisation has a culture that anticipates and welcomes change. “Having this kind of culture and thinking in place makes it easier for you to identify future opportunities and implement them ahead of your competition,” he says. “Always be prepared to fearlessly challenge your industry’s ’norms’ to stay ahead of your competition.”

Innovation thought-leader and trainer Roger La Salle confirms it best (and most deliciously) when he says, "Like the sweet scent of chocolate wafting from a fountain, if your culture is not permeating the organisation from the CEO down, there is little chance of innovation pervading your organisations.”

La Salle names organisations such as Apple, Google, BOSE, Hilton Hotels and McDonalds as successful organisations that “have a culture set from the top down, and nobody can survive in these great companies unless they are on-board and aligned with the culture.”

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that innovation – and innovative thinking – is not necessarily about re-inventing the wheel.  Swiss entrepreneur, investor and author Laurent Haug asserts that innovation should not always be associated with technical innovation. Innovative thinking can also be applied to all business models or even service delivery.

For example, taxis have been around for generations but it’s only in the last decade that ride-sharing has flourished. Of course, technology has helped drive (pardon the pun) the growth of organisations like Uber but passenger dissatisfaction with cost, vehicle and driver cleanliness, and customer service standards – along with poor pay, long hours and lax personal security for the people behind the wheel – were identified by Uber as opportunities to innovate and disrupt the status quo in a segment of the transport sector on a global scale.

Having a curious and open mind is also a trait common to innovative thinkers. There are very few instances of ‘Eureka!’ moments where ideas have magically popped up in people’s minds. Instead, it’s often a fortuitous collision life of experiences that create moments of true brilliance.

As Berg Consulting notes, the idea of cloud-based computing came to its inventor while swimming with dolphins. Steve Jobs’ love of calligraphy played a role in the development of typefaces and fonts available to Mac users. Einstein liked meditation.

It’s a tired cliché but it also happens to be true: Thinking like an innovator won’t happen overnight but by understanding more about yourself and your organisation, looking at new ways of doing the things we’ve always done and re-framing your approach to experiencing life and the world, you’re giving yourself every opportunity to stay at the top of the heap in a world we live in which places an ever-increasing value on mastering innovation.

Get out of the house or office, interact with the world and open your mind to new experiences. That’s your take-home message on thinking like an innovator.

Integra Systems empowers you to make innovative visions real. Visit www.integrasystems.com.au

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Published in Blog
K2_WRITTEN_ON February 02 2017
Written by Erika Hughes