With the current state of the economy amidst COVID-19, innovation has never been more important. In the post-pandemic market, having the ability to innovate will be crucial in seeing success, ensuring that you remain competitive, and coming out on top.
Not convinced? You’re in the minority - according to a study done by McKinsey, a mere 4% of executives had no strategic innovation priorities implemented, and no plans to develop any. However, the same study interestingly concluded that few respondents have confidence in how well their companies are implementing processes and tactics that are usually involved in successful innovation.
Now, consider the argument of a research paper about cultivating innovation, written by a group of professors at the University of South Florida. It argues that successful innovation is carried out in a series of steps, and that innovation comes as a result of specific characteristics.
This is where the idea of teaching yourself how to innovate becomes relevant. With so many businesses stressing the importance of innovation, yet a lack of effective approaches to implementation, there is a significant inefficiency in post COVID-19 business growth plans. If you want to improve your odds of success, it starts with taking on and teaching yourself how to have an innovative approach, an attitude of constant curiosity, and a desire to improve.
Before you start to focus on innovative thinking and strategy, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of your goals. This means understanding what innovation really means, and knowing what it requires. Innovation cannot be defined as simply as ‘implementing technology’ or ‘rebranding your business’ - not unless the changes you make can be implemented successfully and impactfully. Innovation needs to encourage change and rethinking - the role innovation plays in the development and coordination of almost any industry can’t be overstated.
Innovation is an approach and mindset that allows for creative and strategic solutions, whether it improves efficiency, impact or competitiveness.
The secret to innovation is that you need to always be learning - innovation stems from curiosity and a desire for knowledge.
With this in mind, having a curious and inspired mindset requires creativity and the ability to step back from problems, looking at them from a new perspective. Doing this can allow you to realise that you may have solutions to a number of problems, and can identify previously missed issues and inefficiencies in the first place.
The insights that you gain throughout any learning experience will be applicable in driving innovation. Even a straightforward approach such as taking a proactive interest in a skill, with the help of a platform like Upskilled, will be effective in developing your innovative thinking skills. This is true not only in upskilling that is directly related to innovation, but also when learning more about your profession, business in general, or focusing on personal skills and hobbies.
While curiosity and inspiration are key factors that will influence innovation, there are other traits that make an innovator - and while a common conception is that some people are just born as innovators, this is not entirely true.
In reference to the aforementioned research paper on innovation, it is indicated that almost everybody has innovative attributes - the value of knowing this comes in identifying and utilising them. Therefore, consider what makes an innovator, and how these characteristics relate to you. Making an effort to seek out experiences and situations that utilise these traits is a useful way to understand how you can use them to your advantage, thus improving your ability to innovate.
Whilst focusing on your own traits and capabilities is a key step in developing innovative aptitude, knowing how to implement them is a crucial last step.
Consider thinking about where your business is lacking in innovation. Whether it is in your personal work priorities, general business culture, or the strategic direction of the business, knowing where you can make change and turn your insights into actionable processes is key. Doing this will allow the business to set priorities, market products, and stay competitive.
In addition to knowing where you want to make change within your business, take measures to improve the overall process of implementing innovation. As the post-pandemic demand for products shifts, your business needs to formalise and implement processes for setting priorities, marketing products, and integrating innovation within strategic plans.
Ultimately, innovation means learning to implement curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Think of your purpose and what you offer from a different perspective, and be sure to encourage teamwork and collaboration. Be prepared for failure, stay motivated, and continue to focus on broader ideas as goals, rather than aiming for standardised outcomes.
Because of shifting political, ethical and working landscapes, a post covid market demands innovation, reinvention and efficiency. While innovation is not something that can easily be implemented, it is an attitude that is worth cultivating.
The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.
This guide provides an overview of the five key stages of design thinking, from empathy through to test. Find out how to apply the approach and start innovating at your organisation.