What It Means to Be Truly Innovative

Sep 23, 2019

What is it that makes a company truly innovative?

When we think of innovation, we tend to think of cutting edge technologies that enable companies to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. While these are desirable goals, they don’t necessarily make a company more innovative. Because it's not technology that drives innovation, it’s people. Innovation is the result of what people choose to do with the technology they have.

Do they use it to accommodate the way they already doing things, or do they use it to do something that hasn’t been done before? Are they using it to get smarter and faster at the game everyone else is playing, or are they using it to completely change the game?

Unfortunately, most organizations look to what’s worked in the past for ideas about how to use new technology, and, not surprisingly, they are failing to discover innovative solutions. If you want to drive and shape the future of your industry, you may need to rethink your approach to new technology. The following steps are a great place to start.

How to discover areas for innovation:

  1. Identify an emerging trend or technology that will impact the people you serve in some way. You can pick anything from Artificial Intelligence to Big Data to Gene Editing. The point is to get you thinking about and investigating the changes that are coming in the near future.
  2. Challenge the baseline assumptions that have been made about this issue and the changes it will bring. This is where you go beyond the original intent of the technology and try to imagine the unintended consequences AND unrealized opportunities that it holds. **This is important because our first impulse is to restrict our imagination to our current narrative about how the world works. However, new waves of technological advancement always brings about shifts in ideology that ripple through society as a whole. If you want to be at the forefront of those changes, shaping the conversation and the direction we go, then you must start challenging your own narrative and that of your industry when it comes to how we might use these technologies.** 
  3. Explore the broader implications of this technology for the future success and happiness of the people you serve. What are their needs, desires, challenges, and opportunities, given the changes that this technology will bring? As you begin to better understand and anticipate their emerging needs, you will also discover the potential to serve them in completely new and better ways. This is where opportunities for REAL innovation reveal themselves.

The important thing is that you don’t view each new technology as one more tool to do the same thing you’ve always done. You will miss exciting opportunities to create a better reality for the people you serve. Welcome these new tools as opportunities to challenge yourself, your industry, and society as a whole. When you completely free your imagination and go beyond your current narrative, you will discover the greater possibilities that REAL innovation holds.

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