January 6, 2020
Innovation 101: What it actually means & how you can use it
When we think about innovation, our minds may naturally jump to the likes of Steve Jobs or Elon Musk; those who have disrupted the marketplace with cutting-edge and ground-breaking innovations. However, by breaking down what innovation actually means, you may be surprised to learn how much of it you can bring to your own everyday processes.
Think of people like Steve Jobs, and our brains tend to glide wistfully over to glowing products placed on pedestals by their users, or the unbroken attention of an entranced audience listening to them speak. As such, we tend to gloss over the process that these innovators have taken to reach their goals; in awe of their success we forget to focus on the details.
Whilst it can be easy to assume that these powerful figureheads have talents that are beyond our reach, we all have the potential to harness innovation to our own making. It’s just a matter of understanding what innovation means to you and how you can bring this into your own life.
So, what actually is innovation?
The word innovation is thrown around fairly often in the business world – but trying to pin down what it actually means can be another thing entirely.
The Cambridge Dictionary describes innovation as ‘the use of a new idea or method’. As such, the nature of innovation can be adapted to almost any situation. So whether you’re looking to introduce a more innovative culture to your workplace, or rejuvenate the skills and goals in your personal life, innovation is something that we can all incorporate into our lives and routines.
Innovation, by its nature, can’t be restricted to one definition. It’s not just about those larger-than-life ideas that change the world, but it can also be about something simple like improving your current processes and doing things better. Innovation, therefore, means a host of different things to different people, and understanding what it is you want to achieve is the first step in creating a more innovative life for yourself and those around you.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of ways you can start this journey – and some are easier than you may think.
Embrace your creative side
Innovation and creativity go hand in hand. Innovative ideas are born from creativity – this is because innovative ideas encompass that ‘out of the box’ essence that naturally stems from creative thought. However, don’t be put off if you feel like creative thinking isn’t your strength. There are lots of techniques designed to help train your brain to be more creative – even if you think you’re not.
- Mind Mapping – Mind Mapping is a visual thinking process that allows you to capture and expand on ideas in a way that replicates the natural thinking processes of your brain. As a visual representation of your thoughts, Mind Mapping is an effective way of expanding on projects or ideas.
- Brainstorming – Something you’re probably familiar with, brainstorming is a common ritual in most companies – and for good reason. When conducted effectively, brainstorming can be an effective way of gathering the skills and expertise from those in your immediate circle of colleagues.
- Focused daydreaming – Daydreaming is a powerful key to unlocking our imagination. However, in order to use it to harness innovative thinking, it needs to be practical. By reading up on the area or topic you want to explore before taking a moment to switch off, your subconscious mind will actively incubate all the knowledge you’ve learnt, ready to strike you with your next light bulb idea.
These are just three examples that can help to boost your creative thinking skills. Simply making the time in your schedule to incorporate these into your everyday routine will make them feel like a more seamless part of your working processes.
Establish a clear strategy
Whilst creative and disruptive thinking plays an important role in establishing a culture of innovation, this needs to be balanced with a strategic plan in order for your ideas to be implemented effectively. Having a clear strategy will give you a framework from which to work from. It’s vital to start from the basics and truly understand what you want to achieve. From here, you can then put the right steps in place to work towards your goals.
Having a strategy in place will also enable you to effectively measure the results of your endeavours. Tracking your work and deciphering the results of your efforts is vital in understanding what is working well, and which areas you can improve on. Back your creative ventures with a strategic plan of action, and this will give you a grounding in how you’re performing, what your capabilities are and how you can realistically make your innovative ideas a success.
So, now to the fun part – how can you bring innovation into your everyday? As well as the creative thinking techniques listed above, there are practical ways that you can boost an innovative culture in your work. Sometimes, making small changes to your everyday routine is what will ultimately lead you to more innovative practices.
Introduce stand-up meetings
If you’re having a brainstorming meeting with your team, try holding a stand-up meeting instead. Stand-up or walking meetings have gained popularity over recent years due to the team-building benefits they can produce. Getting everybody up on their feet can change the energy in the room and motivate your team to actively contribute to the session and come up with interesting new suggestions.
Mix up your environment
Working from a different room or office space, if you have the flexibility to do so, can do wonders for your creativity. Working in the same spot each day can make your ideas and working habits become monotonous. By stepping into a different environment, you’re stimulating your subconscious imagination, allowing your mind to come up with new, inventive ideas that you can bring back to your team. Not able to step away from your office? Try rearranging your desk space to give yourself a new perspective. Even small steps such as this can help you break free the monotony of your daily routine and refresh your thinking.
Welcome wild ideas
When carrying out a brainstorming session, this is the time to let your imagination run free. So, don’t be quick to dismiss wild ideas. Whilst on the surface they may seem extravagant, it’s these out of the box ideas and suggestions that could lead to your next innovative venture. Try encouraging your team to share their more ‘out there’ ideas – and don’t be afraid to hold back your own.
Feel the fear – but don’t run from it
With any new and creative venture comes the fear of failure. However, learning to dive into ideas that you believe in, despite the risks, is what can help you drive innovation forward in your work. If an idea gives you that spark of excitement, it’s worth pursuing that little bit further. Don’t feel that you need to be fearless, however. Acknowledging the fear, understanding your risks but having the courage to follow through is what will help drive your innovative ventures to success.
Surround yourself with innovative thinkers
The chances are, your team is already brimming with bright-eyed and intelligent people. However, gaining insight from those outside of your industry can help you gain a fresh perspective on your ideas and broaden the horizons of your knowledge and imagination. For example, someone from outside your immediate circle may be able to provide you with an insight on how to pitch your idea to a completely new audience of potential customers. Be sure to network with others in your industry and beyond – more heads are better than one and by seeking advice and knowledge from different sources, you will keep yourself open-minded to new possibilities.
If you’re ready to bring innovation in your everyday routine, then look no further than Ayoa. With its powerful Mind Mapping and Task Management capabilities, Ayoa is here to help you and your team achieve your goals and reach new heights of innovation. Discover more here or sign up for FREE today.