One of the skills often listed by companies for the 21st century business is the ability to innovate. Companies have a lot of competition, and employees who can see new possibilities are valuable commodities. But what does it take to be an innovator? It’s easy to believe that only certain kinds of special people innovate, but in reality we all have the ability to train ourselves to behave like innovators.
1. Practice Serendipity
Companies such as Google and Apple understand that innovation doesn’t happen from one particular genius, or a small team sequestered away. Innovation happens when people interact with their environment and peers in ways that encourage the sharing and creation of ideas. Instead of staying locked to your desk, consider making friends in other departments, spending a little time shadowing someone whose job is very different than yours, getting out of your cubical or office, and generally getting new perspective in your work environment. These chance encounters with difference often cause a chain reaction that helps you see things in new light.
2. Practice Change
Innovators understand that rigidity is a path to extinction. Challenging yourself to see possibilities requires the ability to change the way things have always been done. It’s important to look critically at processes, even ones that have been long established, to open up ways they might be improved or overhauled completely. Change also requires a certain amount of risk tolerance. Becoming an innovative thinker means that you take on the risk if an idea fails, but that shouldn’t prevent you from continually looking for ways that things might be improved.
3. Practice the Little Things
Innovators don’t spend a lot of time dreaming about impossible realities. Instead, they notice little things that are already changing, that have potential to be big factors in your industry. Think about having a wide angle lens. Learn to notice small trends that are picking up steam, instead of focusing on what is already out there.
4. Practice People Skills
Customers have unspoken needs that they may not even be aware of themselves. Innovators are adept at identifying these needs and translating them into what their company does. Innovators become anthropologists of sorts. They study customer behavior and put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Asking directly rarely leads to valuable insights, and so watching customer behavior closely is far better use of time. Where are you causing frustration? Where are you making things needlessly complex? Questions such as this lead to those valuable insights.
5. Practice Scarcity
There have been quite a few systems that seek to answer what innovation is and when it happens, but one theme emerges over and over, the idea of scarcity. Difficulty and lack are key components in true innovation. You may not be able to do away with all your company’s products, or all your belongings, to foster innovation, but learning to recognize what key components are missing from a product or process or service can be the key. You can even look within the company itself. What kind of trainings or systems are in place for employees that are outdated? You may find things missing from your leadership team development that can encourage innovative thinking within your company identity.
Innovation is not reserved for those outlying geniuses or hand-picked teams. With time and training anyone can learn to adopt innovative thinking. For the 21st century, it’s essential that today’s workers develop critical thinking skills in order to provide customers, and their own work environments, with products and systems that are game changing, and offer the chance for continual development and growth.
I hope you enjoyed this article on ways to become a leading innovator in the workplace. Now lead the way!
Interested in more articles about innovation?
Read My Posts:
- 30 Lessons In Business By Age 30
- How To Say NO In Business & Yes To Success
Best Of Luck In Business To You All!
Michael J. Schiemer of Schiemer Consulting
Digital Marketing Manager & Social Media Professional
HootSuite, HubSpot, & Google Analytics Certified
Bootstrap Business: Money - Marketing - Motivation
Mike Schiemer Builds Better Business
Share This Blog Post On Social Media: