Innovation has become a ubiquitous term in the realm of entrepreneurism. So what does innovation really mean and how can an entrepreneur leverage the power of innovation to solve problems and create a profitable business? Work to incorporate these strategies into your own creative development to improve the level of innovation within your organization.
Go With the Trends, but Against the Flow
According to Merriam Webster, innovation is “the introduction of something new. A new idea, method, or device.” By this definition, much of the innovation that receives greatest promotion and coverage in the media and in our society is simply clever imitations or iterations of products or services already on the market.
So what does it take to truly innovate? Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time is purported to have said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” In the same way, a good entrepreneur creates value where the trends in the market are. A great innovator sees the trends and creates solutions where the trends are going to be.
A great innovator is the person who recognizes the trends in the market, but recognizes that the greatest opportunity lies at the point in the future where the trends are leading. A true innovator instinctively goes against the flow because he recognizes where the flow is going and creates a strategy to move there more quickly and more creatively.
Think Like an Innovator
If you are not a natural innovator, that is okay. All human beings are creative. And all of us can harvest that creativity. If you want to become a better innovator, first of all you must become an observer. Next, you must ask questions. Finally, seek out different opinions?
Be smart. Surround yourself with intelligent people you trust and respect who think differently than you do. If you are a creative mind, find some analytical colleagues. If you are an MBA, hang with some MFA’s (Master of Fine Arts).
People of differing socioeconomic, cultural and religious backgrounds have different worldviews. They recognize different problems. They seek to solve these problems in different ways. This is where true innovation happens.
In his little-known play, Back to Methuselah, George Bernard Shaw wrote, “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”
At the end of the day, the true innovator develops the vision to dream of things that “never were.” The great innovator has the confidence to not only ask, “why not?” but to take action to prove whether those things are possible. And when he finds that what was never dreamed of is, in fact, possible, our world changes. Those types of innovations are written language. The printing press. The cotton gin. The steam engine. They shape the foundations of our society and it is transformed by them.