Perhaps one of the most important questions facing business today is keeping ahead of the competition. How can we improve, get better and innovate?
- What are the characteristics or attributes that signal innovation capability in an individual? How can I get them? What do I have to do?
- Can we distil what makes Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison and other leading innovators so successful? How can I apply that if I’m just a small business owner?
What makes an innovator tick?
In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen set out to uncover what makes good innovators tick, and separate the myth from the observable science. Eight years in the making, surveying 500 innovators, 5000 executives from 75 countries. The book looks at How did those businesses do it and more importantly how can I do it?
How can you do it?
Many of the innovators (or their companies) studied for the book will be familiar to most readers: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, (Amazon) Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Scott Cook (Intuit), Peter Thiel (PayPal), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Niklas Zennstrom (Skype) and many others.
And sometimes as small business owners this is where we lose interest as we can’t see how we can apply what these big corporation do to our small business. They give a good summary in the diagram attached.
(1) have the courage to innovate, as shown in their ability to challenge the status quo and take risks;
(2) incorporate the behavioural skills of observing, questioning, networking and experimenting, (the new learned behaviours) which lead to
(3) associative thinking that ultimately leads to innovative business ideas.
Just to give you an idea on how that works. The brain doesn’t store information as a dictionary alphabetically with theatre under the letter T. Theatres can be associated with Broadway, ice cream at the intermission or anxiety; because as a kid you remember the time you fell off the stage at the school play. So the more diverse knowledge the brain possesses the more connections it can make given fresh inputs of knowledge and then these fresh inputs trigger the associations that lead to novel ideas.
So say for example, that’s why when you use the fresh thinking, and latest insights from the most up to date business books( something we are passionate about) or you engage with outside facilitators (shameless plug here)that these act as a triggering mechanism – that fires your imagination – that then leads to other unexpected associations that act as powerful and essential supplements of data, for working through a problem. They are critical creative tools that help generate strategic insights.
The conclusion of the book is that when engaged in consistently, these actions—questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting—triggered associational thinking to deliver new businesses, products, services, and/or processes.
The Business Troubleshooters plug
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If there was one thing you could do right now that would have the greatest impact for good for your business what would that be?