How do we become more innovative? How do we create new growth opportunities? How do we avoid being disrupted by a new competitor? To answer any of these questions, it’s essential to realize that innovation is not driven by a single great idea or the result of magical serendipity, innovation is a process of disciplined exploration.
Many companies confuse being innovative with having a breakthrough idea. They announce an important innovation effort and then open the floodgates to new solutions, hoping that the right one will magically become apparent. The effort and pressure is placed on perfecting the idea, versus understanding the underlying mechanisms for identifying, capturing and scaling value for the people who are willing to pay or give something in exchange for that value.
Cultivating a discipline of innovation starts with understanding that the process we’ve used to execute on what we’ve done in the past is not the process we need to help us explore new possibilities for growth in the future.
Practicing innovation also requires that we learn new skills, ones that aren’t often taught in traditional education or training.
We have to learn how to:
- observe and see things objectively from a customer’s perspective as that will help us identify what they really need in their lives, not what we believe our current capabilities and product features can do for them;
- engage and collaborate with colleagues and partners that bring diverse experience and perspectives to the effort;
- have an open stance to feedback — moving beyond a reactive evaluation of whether the idea is ‘good’ or ‘not good’ – so we can learn enough to inform the next rev of our idea;
- practice presenting new ideas in a compelling way — through metaphor and visualization;
- overcome our bias towards needing endless research data to ensure that our ideas are the right ones;
- find the simple idea through the complexity of possibility; and
- create and run small experiments to learn if the value we’ve identified is truly valued by our customers.
Where to start?
But how do you learn this new process and set of skills? Companies we work with tell us they just don’t know where to start.
In Design a Better Business: New Tooks, Skills and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation, we walk people through a double-loop process – a set of clear steps that anyone can take who wants to be more innovative or drive an innovative culture. Our goal in creating this book was to outline a clear methodology, and bring together in one place the tools and ways of working that will assure successful innovation.
In addition, we highlight the mindset shifts necessary to support successful innovation – a mindset of continuous learning and growth, of accepting and integrating points of view that may be diametrically opposed to your own, of being an architect of hope, courageously sharing bold ideas in a way that others can understand and get behind.
The work of innovation is hard. If we can take some of the unnecessary friction off by showing people how to use the right tools, and teach people how to adopt the right behaviors and mindsets to accomplish the tasks they are focused on, we believe that their jobs just got easier and their companies just got more innovative.
The book is a practical and very visual field guide with 20 different tools as well as a detailed explanation of when to use which tools to accomplish which goals along the way.
Whether you are in the early phases of thinking about what’s next, in the idea validation phase or ready to scale an new product or offering, Design a Better Business will help you every step of the way with case studies and insights and tips from the thought leaders in this space who do this work every day. We show you how these tools are actually being used in the real world so you can be more effective in using them yourself.
Our hope is that many more leaders will see themselves as and feel empowered to be innovative and create innovative cultures.
What are you waiting for?
Together, let’s Design a Better Business!