“What is innovation?” This is a simple question, but one that people often struggle with.
Innovation is a critical business skill. But if you can’t clearly answer, “what is innovation?” how can you make your organization, team, or self more innovative?
Innovation is often thought of only in the world of technology. And in fact, technology is probably the field that gets the most publicity when it comes to innovations. However, there are many, many ways of applying innovation beyond just tech.
What is innovation? (according to Merriam-Webster.com)
“a new idea, device, or method”
“the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods”
I have a similar, but simpler answer to the question, “what is innovation?”
“Innovation is doing something new, or doing something old in a new way.”
Notice how neither the dictionary definition nor my simple definition says anything about “technology.”
Why is Innovation Important?
Innovation is a critical business skill for several reasons:
The world is changing – The world is smaller than ever, and it is changing faster than ever. The concept of doing the same old things in the same old way absolutely will not work. Individuals and organizations need to innovate to respond to all this change.
To keep up – Rapid change and innovation is now the price of simply staying in business. Organizations that ignore change and try to maintain the status quo will quickly be left behind.
To get ahead – Doing the activities that maintain the status quo will never grow your business, increase your market share, or advance your career. The only way to get ahead is to do new things, or do some old things in new ways.
Make life easier – When properly applied, innovation can help you streamline processes and systems, allowing you to do more with less, and to do it in simpler fashion. Who wouldn’t want that?
Examples of Innovation
It may be easier to answer the question, “what is innovation?” by looking at a few examples:
Technological Innovation – This is the most obvious kind of innovation. Every new smart phone, tablet, video game system, etc. are examples of technological innovation. New features that do new things.
Business Innovation – Building a business around something new. This could be a new business model (shared rides, like Uber), new distribution (mail for DVDs, like Netflix), new positioning (high-end coffee shops, like Starbucks), etc.
Process Innovation – Automating tasks to streamline workflow, using tools like IFTTT and Buffer. Outsourcing tasks at affordable costs to UpWork or Fiverr. Giving front-line workers the ability to stop the assembly line (Toyota).
Product Innovation – Bagless vacuums, GoPro cameras, and single-serve coffee makers, are all examples of product innovations.
What is Innovation on an Individual Level?
Innovation does not need to just be the thing of large organizations. It is very possible, and even desirable, to innovate on an individual level. For example:
Individual Innovation on a Professional Level – Streamline something at your job or business. Create a series of templates for repeated tasks. Change the timing and order at which you take on tasks. Use automated systems to work more efficiently.
Individual Innovation on a Personal Level – Outsource tasks that drain your energy (lawn care, laundry, etc). Create checklists to simplify “leaving the house routines.” Reorganize areas in your home to reduce prep time. Try out different physical/exercise activities until you find ones you look forward to, rather than dread, doing.
On the surface, some of the examples above may seem simplistic. And that’s the point. Every innovation doesn’t have to be earth-shatteringly huge. By simply and consistently innovating, you (and your organization) can make big shifts over time that move you ahead of the competition and moving in a forward direction.
The next time you find yourself wondering, “what is innovation?” take a look at yourself or your organization. Ask yourself, “what new thing can I do or what old thing can I do in a new way?” And then take action on that answer!
How Improv, Ding Happens, and Avish Can Help
Avish has a process that uses improv comedy tools, ideas, and principles to help access their creativity and increase their innovation. His interactive programs are fun, engaging, and highly relevant.
Avish can help you increase innovation and creativity in your workplace in several ways:
Speaking at Your Annual Meetings
Presenting ideas around improv and change to a large group of people in a short period of time (45-90 minutes). Avish’s presentations are fun, engaging, interactive, motivational, and designed to open-minds and get people started down the path of adaptability and innovation.
Training at your Workplace
Working hands-on with a smaller group of people for a longer time where the focus is on skills-transfer. Giving your team the skills and practice to implement these ideas in the real word.
Facilitation at Your Next Leadership Retreat
Taking your leadership team through a process that helps them create a plan of their own to increase creativity and innovation throughout the entire organization.
Contact us now to book Avish to help your team respond to, embrace, and take advantage of change in the workplace!