How can you do what you did yesterday better today? That is a question you should ask yourself if you are indeed delirious of producing innovative ideas often. Someone tosses a pebble across the pond, while another watches the ripples and tries to turn them into waves. That someone that tossed the pebble is the innovator while the latter is an entrepreneur. That is what Entrepreneurs do. They solve problems, usually by producing innovative ideas. And your relevance is attached to your ability to repeatedly produce innovative ideas that you want to put to work, with a team and solve the many problems around us. I will share with you a few things that I have done that has worked for me. Some of them you may have read about, others probably not.
A Knack for solving problems: This is a mind-set issue. I once read a book (cannot recall which now) that mentioned a manager that told his downlines to only bring him solutions not problems. Sometimes our mind tries to avoid anything associated with difficult tasks or uncertainty. That is where the fight or flight response arises. I once noticed sales associates of a Spanish female fashion brand we once consulted for, dodging customers known for asking grilling questions about products they are about to buy. They did not need that kind of hassle. They just wanted to make a sale and move on. But once you have conditioned your mind to embrace tackling problems, you will eventually start exercising your brain to produce innovation ideas and actions often. You will not need to be pushed; you will do the pushing yourself. The Sales Associate can dig deeper and investigate why the probing questions. If it has to do with damaged products, they want to focus on proffering solutions like focusing shopper’s attention to care instructions.
Accept your uniqueness: If you are a naturally inquisitive person, and you ask a lot of questions, interrogate the status quo, chances are if you are surrounded by colleagues that are champions of “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” you will not be the adorable Pretty Boy the Koala in the Back to the Outback animated movie. But do not sweat it. Performance shuts even the greatest of critics. Just keep them coming, collaborate and be patient as other people have their own agendas to attend to. But what you must not do is settle and conform simply because you want to please others. It is advised you apply your emotional intelligence here.
Be competitive: I’m a football fan and everyone loves (well most fans) to watch a good game of football. Under former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa, the football club’s brand of football was a joy to watch, but the results were not as impressive. They current sit 16th on the table in the English League, have mustered 33 points out of a possible 96 points. Compare that to Messi and Cristiano’s rivalry. They may not admit it (Messi won’t), but each player has pushed the other to keep getting better, and you have seen the effect in their personal records to date. To be innovative, you must think in a competitive manner. Not toxic to the point where it graduates to jealousy or obsession. Think about all the strategies in the world today. Even the blue Ocean Strategy which claims it is about ignoring the competition is indirectly still considering the competition!
Be Persistent and long for the results: You will always benefit from flexing your brain muscles. Attributes include being stubborn, (not cantankerous) open, optimistic & driven to create value, not extract value. Why? If you are not any of this, it will be quite easy for people to dissuade you from proceeding with your idea simply because it is the easier route to take. Think about it. If you are in the same unit as you and you love the comfort zone, what would you do? Invite more work?
Shut yourself away: This has worked for me time and again. When I hit a “creative block”, I just shut myself away from the noise and drama and steal away. I could close for that day and return some other time. And as ideas start pouring in, I store it in one corner in my brain till the “Eureka” moment hits!
Engage creative content: Another favourite for me. I specifically can reach out to as many platforms as possible. It could be a TV channel that usually plays a lot of creative adverts during commercial breaks, subscriptions on thought leadership in innovative thinking, it could be from my industry with a record of accomplishment of creative content, or I just look through lots of poster ads, journals or articles saved in my cloud for inspiration. This coupled with the previous point can be applied in tandem. I am usually buzzing with ideas when I return from these rituals. If you have someone you look up to with a record of accomplishment of inspiring you, now is the time to connect with them, read their content, or ask what they would do in that situation.
Be open to new experiences: George Bernard Shaw was quoted as saying, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” A friend of mine came over for Christmas with his family and was livid I was allowing my 4-year-old daughter to call me by my government name. I thought they were more important things in life at that stage in her life, like teaching her about sharing, and collaborating with other kids. She calls me daddy 99.9% of the time. She just recently saw a personalised dairy that had my name on it, so she thought to practice name calling. My point is, I see myself more as their playmate. And I have had flashes of innovative ideas playing with them. I will not let culture or routine deprive me of such moments. Our time is a long shot different from theirs. For you, it could be traveling to another location, experiencing new cultures, cuisine, people, or information.
When you live intentionally embracing these suggestions, you will find yourself producing innovative ideas often. Keep at it, and it will become second nature. What you pay attention to, indeed grows. I can testify to that.