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Companies know they need innovation. That's not even worth discussing. People know this. They almost get tired of people telling them you need to innovate. We know. Here's the challenge. Where do we start? How do we get the machine going? I think that's a fair question. I spoke with a company very recently that's an old, old, well-established company known to probably every consumer would recognize this company. I'm not going to mention their name, but they're such a well-heeled, well-known, well-entrenched company that even they have a hard time imagining themselves being innovative.
They do what they do so well, and what they do they play in a space that is so tightly regulated that they have to do it well. To them innovation is like, "Oh, where do we start?" I'll tell you right now what I told them. Step One, you've got to see innovation as a competency. It's a skill. This company is very talented. Let's add innovation methodologies to that set of competencies. Just learn it. Learn it and then Step Two you've got to pilot it.
Start small. I tell companies, "You know what? "Let's just try something on a low-level scale. "Let's get some friction here, some traction "and find out how this is really working out, "where it seems to light people up, "and who gets excited in the organization." Innovation is a very personal thing. It's about people at the end of the day. Let's do a pilot and let's spread this and do this organically. What I don't tell companies is this, "Let's go to the CEO, let's convince the CEO, "and let's have the CEO just mandate this down "and everything will be fine." No, that's not going to work.
This command on down, and good CEOs know this by the way. They know that it's much better to have it grow up organically at the grassroots level. This is what I advise too. You can manage it so that the innovation experienced starts to hop around because it happens by word of mouth, peer-to-peer. In any organization there's a peer-to-peer network and they are like, "Psst, how'd that work out for you?" "Psst, hey that was good," or "No, we want to stay away from it." That's how things move around an organization.
Good leaders can manage that, they can nurture that, they can, for example, when they do leadership training start to reward and recognize that skill, start to reward people for applying innovation methods, for taking it as a competency, embedding it into their daily work processes, see it again as a skill. Then what happens ultimately is that the methods kind of spread around. Then it boils down to activity.
If you're committed to innovation, you've got to take some of today's activities, running today's business and by its very nature you've got to take some of that and do some of this more risky stuff over here. If you don't have the stomach for this, you're just going to be running today's business and you're going to have a flat line revenue line that the stock market is not going to be very excited about. You've got to diversify, pull some risk going over here and that's where CEOs can get excited when they see the use of concrete methods that get results, the teams that work hard to generate new ideas unlock new value for their customers, and they start to make the company grow in value, but it all starts right down with seeing innovation like a muscle that you can build and develop and strengthen.
It is a skill very much so that you can see it that way.
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