Is innovation really just creativity? What does it really take to be innovative? Is it maybe just a new and fancier term for thinking out of the box? But how does one even think out of the box?
In today's age, innovation is a largely used term yet not many really understand the true meaning of it. Many companies have their own versions of an innovation lab that does not do much more than collect dust. It is true that since not many are aware about the true innovation process, it has become just a label to allow companies to "show" that they are up to the current business frontier practices.
After much study behind this small yet powerful word, I will be deconstructing the innovative mindset today for all of you. So being innovative is not just being creative, in fact, if you are not the "creative" type, don't fret, you can be just as innovative as anyone else. To put it simply, innovation is a mindset. It is about how you think and process your thoughts.
Now, before we go further, we have two types of mindset categories already that you can fall in, fixed and growth. A fixed mindset is where you are unwilling to learn new things and think you are the best and if you fail, then well, you don't really bounce back immediately with determination and ease. Also, you think that you are "born" with your qualities and won't ever change anything about yourself.
However, a growth mindset is where you love learning and are open to learning at any stage of your life. You believe that you can do whatever you want if you just put in the required effort. If you fail, then it is still all good, you know now what NOT to do next time, and this makes you resilient to failure. It is totally possible to have a combination of the two mindsets, but it is better to push towards the growth mindset for a more successful and peaceful life.
There is a third mindset called the innovative mindset and this is what allows innovation to take place. Let's look into the process within the innovative mindset. We all have thoughts that are based on what we have learned in our life, which includes past experiences and the "accepted norms" of doing things. These are called convergent thoughts. Now, imagine your brain being a box of these thoughts. Normally, we feel comfortable in this cozy box. Now, let's take any one base thought, for example, a camera. A camera is something we hold that takes pictures and videos, that is what we have always seen and learned. Next, we will begin to diverge our base thought which simply means to think about crazy things associated to that base thought. Like cameras flying. You need an enabler to innovate any thought, and in this case, it is the action of flying. Thus, the Drone is born.
Now, wasn't that simple? Technology is also a great enabler like AI, AR, VR and more. Caution, it will feel cold, dark and scary when you step out of your comfy and cozy box, but keep moving forward. If you feel like you are shooting arrows in the dark, then you are on the right track. Being innovative takes practice and confidence. You can take any problem that your business is currently facing to create an innovative solution. Or if you are an Entrepreneur, go ahead and make the next big thing by being super innovative.
Want a business related example? Take employee skill development in a large organization as the main issue on hand. We have always learned about on-the-job coaching and taking the support of external education providers to solve this issue, but not everyone is so receptive which is becoming a challenge. Think online games as an enabler. This is something employees will enjoy playing during their off hours. At the same time, the games would have been programmed to develop different skills critical to the work of the employee. You now have an innovative solution! Better look into hiring a game developer to work with the training and L&D directors!
Having an innovative and growth mindset is what everyone should have-in an ideal world. However, we can always train ourselves to achieve this at any point in our lives. Keep in mind that having an innovative mindset is just the first step in the innovation process. Innovation itself is not a one man show in any organization, it requires its people to possess that mindset first. I will leave you all with one question, how innovative do you now think you can be?