You protect her and put all your effort into making sure she is safe and healthy. You spend countless hours thinking of ways to help her with the mundane problems a life in this modern world brings. To you, she is beautiful. And you know that when people look at her they respect you more.
Lately though, she seems distant. Things with her aren’t as exciting as they once were. It often feels like a chore to spend time with her. What I am about to say will be uncomfortable for you. But, it will add some spark to her world. “She” is your business. Your attempts to keep her safe and healthy have made her existence predictable and mundane.
You are not to blame for this boring existence you have created. You used that passion you once had to produce something successful. You both liked the results and kept going with it. Why change a good thing?
At times you have tried to spice things up. You invested in some business training, bought fancy ads, maybe even introduced some gadgets into your relationship. Some of it you really liked and expected her to love. But, that didn’t work out as well as you hoped. No matter how hard you tried, your efforts just didn’t offer much excitement to her.
Let me talk to you about something different, something that may make you both uncomfortable. But, once you try this, she will blossom. I’m talking about innovation.
Innovation is more than changing what you are doing. Innovation is more than trying a new market position, or ad campaign. To innovate is to do something in your industry that your competition does not have or has not done. A simple statement with huge implications.
People invest huge amounts of money in companies that follow previously tested and tried models. Who can blame them? It is comfortable. What I’m am about to do here is to challenge you to endure some discomfort.
Innovation requires stepping out of your comfort zone. It means thinking outside the box. It means doing or saying something outrageous to capture the consumer’s attention. True innovation can be risky. But, it can also be wildly exciting.
Innovation is the catalyst that lets you stay in love with and committed to the business you have sheltered and fostered for so many years. When you cease to be innovative, your relationship with the business becomes stagnant. Even worse is that without innovation your relationship dies.
Think about it. Think about the few, select business leaders you admire and respect. We admire these people because they continue to accomplish new goals. They continue to make news headlines as they introduce a new community initiative. They are “movers” and “shakers.” And somewhere, deep inside, there may be a teeny part of ourselves that is ever so secretly envious.
So, how do you become an innovator?
First,you need to stop looking at how others do things. In almost every business book you read, it will have you look at what other people did to become successful. We talk about what they have done. Innovation doesn’t start with what other people are doing. It starts with what they are not doing.
This requires thinking creatively, and it WILL take thinking about strange or uncomfortable things. In working with companies on innovation, the most difficult thing is usually becoming comfortable with something new. You can’t point to someone else and say “See they are doing this.”
I can give countless examples of innovation within companies to create new products, services, approaches, markets. But none of these is your innovation. Your innovation is still inside you, and inside your business.
It was probably present even today in a customer conversation, maybe a complaint. It was perhaps in the problem with how a job was completed more slowly than you would have wanted. Maybe you didn’t notice it because you just started doing it the way you always have. Maybe, you don’t need to do this at all anymore?
Innovation in most business communities is practically non-existent. We think, or even say, we want to change things around. Spice things up. Make a splash. But in the end, we continue along the same nondescript path. Afraid to stand out from the crowd. Afraid of what others might think. Afraid of the “what if...it doesn’t work.”
For many years I have challenged business owners to innovate. More often than not, innovative ideas are rejected. Now, as we look around at leadership that is pushing for an innovative approach to economic development, we have a choice: either to continue in the same dull rut, or rise up with a host of others and become a part of the changing tide.
Now is the time to get excited about business again - about possibility, risk and change. Yes, failure is always an option, but so is wild success. Usually the failures are small and quick to overcome, while the lessons learned from them will be a valued asset. Learn to celebrate your failures and use them to drive your success. I dare you to become uncomfortable and ask “How can I?” instead of “Why don’t they?”
By Shane McKinney