Is innovation dead or just dying?
November 29, 2011
The word is out that innovation is dead. A September article in Forbes quotes none other than Max Levchin of PayPal, saying, "Innovation in this country is somewhere between dire straits and dead." Whoa! Harsh words!
It harkens back to the day when consumers were told, "Everything that can be invented, has been invented," by Charles Holland Duell. [truth is - this is what he said, "In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness. I almost wish that I might live my life over again to see the wonders which are at the threshold." ]
Regardless of how you feel (how do you feel?), innovation is not dead. Innovation may be on a slow boat to... somewhere, let's not say China, but it's clearly not dead. If you are part of life on the Internet, you know it's not dead. Smart people are creating innovative businesses, products, and services every day. We saw a truly innovative new business just the other day as we drove to a friend's for turkey - on the side of the road there was a small sign that said, "Wehangchristmaslights.com". Some folks might not think that's innovative, but I do.
If you're a small business like I am, it can be difficult, challenging, downright frustrating, trying to figure out how to innovate. For instance, what's new and exciting in the world of marketing to women or women in business? Stats? That's not innovative. Pink? Oh puhlease...save me from pink! How about women in sports or construction or finance? So last year. I'm exploring new ideas - if you have thoughts on where Lip-sticking should go in 2012, to be innovative and cutting edge and useful, let me know!
How do you do it, then? How do you bring innovation to your office? First, try thinking outside the boardroom. Seriously. Get Creative Thinkering, a book by Michael Michalko, in which he shares some practical examples of creative thinking - sure to spur innovation.
Next, find other resources that will spark that excitement in you and your team - excitement that can get you dancing, singing, laughing, joking, drawing, acting... all activities that you used to do routinely, as a child. Yes, tap into your inner child.
Roger von Oech says to, "Think like a wise fool," on his blog. "It's the wise fool's job to extol the trivial, trifle with the exalted, and parody the common perception of a situation. In doing so, the fool makes us conscious of the habits we take for granted and rarely question. A good fool needs to be part actor and part poet, part philosopher and part psychologist."
Don't you love that? It reminds me of my favorite performance group here in Denver, Art as Action. Their recent performance of "beautiful mistake" shakes innovation to its core. I would venture to say that the performing arts (please, not sitcoms or made for TV movies!) is among the most creative and innovative endeavors human beings can participate in. "beautiful mistake" took the audience into dream realms - places you imagine in moments of solitude, places you move through with all of your senses alive. When you emerge from those places, you start seeing reality as stifling or suffocating. It's in breaking out of that shadow world of the ordinary, that you begin to feel innovative.
Another place to discover ways to be innovative is Head Shed. Well worth a visit. As noted in this article on BoM, "As you dig into it, you’ll discover a treasure trove of links to creativity tools, creative communities and creativity blogs. While some of the links are more 'artsy/hippie' than business-focused, you’ll still find plenty of guidance, ideas and inspiration to help your company along the path to innovation. It’s all served up with a dose of humor — one of the key ingredients for successful innovation." Notice how they feel 'artsy/hippie' needs clarification. What can I say...that I haven't said before? Art is innovation.
In the end, or the beginning, if you will, innovation begins in the heart. What thrills you? How can you translate that into an innovatve approach to your business? Tell us!
Meanwhile, visit this fab article with several more resources on how to be innovative in business. Which ones work for you?
Lip-sticking is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.
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