Perhaps the very best definition I have ever heard for the term “innovation” came from a book written by Scott D. Anthony: Innovation –“something different that creates value”.
In today’s high tech world innovation is sometimes related to something new to do with technology. Notice that the word technology does not appear in the definition. Although innovation and change may sound very much alike, innovation causes change.
I received an apple watch for Father’s day this year. Like many other innovative products that Apple introduced over the past decade, this product created value ($) for Apple, and it created value for me by making communications and my fitness discipline easier.
Innovation is no longer limited to large companies. Every small business owner has to innovate in order to survive. The ‘Innovate or fail” mind set has to be with every small business owner from the moment they wake up. Like any other skill, the ability to innovate has to be learned and practiced. The secret to innovation success is to start the innovation process before you have to; in other words look at trends and signs of coming change in your industry.
Innovation cannot happen in a vacuum; our customers and clients still reign as the determining factor of what has to change. Surveying current customers as to what they may need is not an answer for innovation. You have to get ahead of the curve, understanding their pains and then looking for possible new ways to cure those pains.
The following are a few action items from Anthony’s book:
- Greatly increase the amount of time you spend with your customers.
- Always ask “WHY?” “WHY NOT?” and “WHAT IF?”
- Experiment with innovation in some aspect of your business every day.
As a final suggestion, take the definition of innovation and keep a copy where you can see it every day.
Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building Arks does. Warren Buffet
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