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It’s 2015, 15 years after Y2K. Change is part of our lives. We readily accept software updates, reboots, password changes and much more. The best companies are launching new innovations right now. Your competitors are innovating. Are you?
If not, what’s getting in your way? The answer I hear from many clients is “We’re searching for the Big Idea, the one big opportunity that’s going to really change things around here.” If that’s your company, I have news for you – by the time you find it or get beyond the analysis-paralysis to decide whether and how to implement it, you won’t be first. A competitor or someone else will have beaten you to market.
In 2015 speed wins. Playing it safe is no longer safe. Thoughts like “What if I make the wrong call?” or “I’d better be careful not to screw things up” went out a few years ago. Kind of like “Don’t push the envelope” went out with e-mail!
As we make decisions — ranging from big moves in business to smaller, personal choices — we often put the weight of the world on our shoulders. The nagging impulse to avoid mistakes, get it right, and not lose ground can paralyze our ability to try new things. Accordingly, many people and companies remain stuck in the quicksand of the status quo.
Break the Innovation Barrier
To break the barrier and start the tide of innovation, shift the search for the “Big Idea”to motivating your team to share all their ideas. Make every idea count. That’ll mean things like –
- Lots of ideas
- Lots of change
- More teamwork
- Focus on trying to make ideas work
- Accepting and learning from failures
- Shifting from asking “why?” to saying “let’s try”
Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Would you rather work at a company where you know top management is working on something big, or where lots of new ideas are bursting on the scene and you never know what’s going to be new today?
To crack through this barrier, try a fresh approach for 2015: rather than viewing a decision to try something new as a written-in-stone, life-or-death noose, think of it as an experiment. You have an idea – how can you give it a try without risking the company? How fast can you try it? Build a prototype to show customers?
Breakthrough innovations like Facebook come from a series of ideas, not a single idea that’s perfect first time out. In fact, most innovations are the result of many ideas, collaborations, setbacks, mistakes, and roadblocks. The act of progress, is a curvy road of discovery, trial-and-error, not a single lightning bolt of inspiration.
From Innovation Tide to Tsunami
Many of us have fresh ideas for change, but we get stuck in analysis-paralysis: we either fully embrace the new idea and risk everything, or don’t pursue it at all. What happens most of the time? More Excel spreadsheets! More analysis! More paralysis! And nothing happens.
Forgo the all-or-nothing trap in favor of many ideas and small wins. Break the idea down into one or more experiments, where you can test your innovation without betting the farm. Figure out how to take the easy first step.
Don’t expect a game-changer first time out. Did you hit a homer your first time at bat? Hole in One first time swinging the club? Only if you’re one in a bazillion. For the rest of us, when the first step works, celebrate the win, and share it around your company. Not for the credit, but to inspire others to take small steps. To share their ideas for change. To innovate. To try something new.
What happens next? One base hit leads to another. And another. The fear of change fades. The team gains confidence. The analysis-paralysis yields to “how can we?” Creativity soars. What was once a boring, predictable place to work turns into a hotbed of creativity. An innovative, cool place to work.
Let the tsunami begin!