Lifting the Innovation Curtain

We have been hearing more and more about the need to innovate our business practices in the past couple of years. It seems you can’t turn around without discovering some new book, workshop or article on the subject sharing insights into the power of innovative thinking.
In all actuality, innovation is not a new idea or trend at all. Innovation is what has driven and inspired the world to become the economic and social engine we are experiencing today.
The difference today is that innovation is a necessity and not a luxury. In just 10 short years, we have gone from a product life cycle of up to two years to six months or less. If businesses are not innovating and cannibalizing their own product lines, someone else will. Back when Atari first introduced Pong, the life cycle was years instead of weeks. With the pace of change and innovation, increasing your competitive advantage is dependent on your ability to inspire innovative thinking and action within your business.
One of the common threads among innovators is the ability to learn from failure and apply this new knowledge to their ongoing endeavor. Inside of you and your team is the ability to think different about your current business challenge.
Our minds can be one of our greatest assets for innovation, or they can be one of our greatest blocks. Opening your mind to being outrageous is a powerful way to stretch yourself to new limits. Innovation happens when you take yourself and others to the edge of their current thinking. Once there, doubt has a unique way of creeping in and suppressing our outrageousness. Suspending doubt for even a few minutes can open the door to new innovations waiting to surface.
Another common thread among those who are successfully innovating is a mind set that anything is possible. When you look at your innovation challenge with the idea that there are no boxes to think outside of, you allow new and different thinking to start flowing.
Look to fun for inspiration. Toys and games have a way of breaking down the boxes we have created for ourselves, allowing us to connect ideas past and present, one of the keys to innovation.
Fear of failure and looking bad hold back many an innovator. Being willing to take calculated risks that stretch into new territories is critical to generating innovation.
The greatest risk today is not taking risks at all. If you are playing it safe, you are loosing your competitive advantage. Identify a risk you and your team are willing take and then monitor the progress and lessons to be learned.
It is very rare that anything innovative is transformed from an idea into tangible results without a team. Enrolling talent into an innovative vision and collaboratively working to translate the vision will accelerate the desired outcome. Target talent that has the ability to fill knowledge holes and that is able to work well in a team environment. With the right team in place the sky is the limit to the innovation you can generate.

Nolan Bushnell founded Atari Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theater chain. He was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America.” Sean Griffin is a graphic facilitator, business strategist and chair of the Spirit Award, The Tulsey’s and The Collaboratorium.  



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