The Irony of Innovation

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: April 6, 2016

Irony_of_Innovation_internal_imgInnovation: the holy grail of today’s leading companies (and those that strive to lead). Yet, innovation is much easier to preach than to practice.

Why is that? The very concept of innovation and the act of innovating is a dichotomy. Forbes stated it well: “Innovation is the constant interplay of order and chaos, of planning and serendipity, of intention and luck.”

This is why we refer to innovation as “disruptive.”  That is because innovation disrupts; it does not organize. Companies must adapt to disruption, or they will themselves be disrupted – possibly even destroyed. In short, to innovate you must adapt – and adapt quickly.

But when companies think “major innovation,” it’s often coupled with thoughts of a large investment – in time, resources, and money. What most business leaders don’t know, or consider, is the fact that innovation doesn’t have to occur all at once, in one fell swoop. Innovation can occur overtime with an iterative approach and still result in just as much success.

You Can’t Plan For Innovation

You can’t plan for innovation, but you can foster a culture more likely to breed it.

  1. Allow plenty of time for free thinking. Highly structured tasks, projects, and timelines are crucial for maintaining success and seeing results in business. But a strict regimen day in and day out leaves little room for creativity. Allow yourself and your team the opportunity to sometimes, just sit and think.
  2. Don’t fear risk. Encourage it. Risk is the number one innovation deterrent. Although this is a common perception, it doesn’t have to factor into actions. Encourage risk-taking and trying new things. Successful innovation is in large measure an issue of identifying and controlling risk. But that doesn’t mean risk doesn’t play a key role in the successful process.
  3. Allocate time and space for invention. Like allowing time for free thinking, allocate time and space for researching, for experimenting, for inventing. Not only do these activities have a chance to breed innovation, they fuel passion.
  4. Reward ideas – both successes and failures. Finally, reward outside the box thinking. It is only here that new ideas, new processes, new products, and new discoveries are born.

Having a hard time embracing or encouraging innovation? Let us help. Even the smallest changes to process or team dynamics can make a world of difference.