Over the past couple of weeks we have been running a number of innovation sessions with people interested in starting their own businesses. As anyone who has ever read the E-Myth knows, the majority of business owners start because they have good technical skills, but their managerial and entrepreneurial skills are usually lacking.
We see the skill of innovation to be a key attribute of the successful entrepreneur and our experience over the past few weeks is that our groups have been starting from a very low base. We think our school system has recognised the need to develop innovative thinking. We just don’t think they have had a great deal of success in having an impact on the majority of their students’ skill in this area.
As with most things in life, we believe our innovative skills are a mixture of natural ability, combined with learned skills and processes. We are products of our life experiences and it takes “something” to be able to step out of what we know is possible to imagine an innovative solution to even the most common problems.
One small but important part of innovation is the ability and the platform to start producing ideas. We started our training session with a simple brainstorming activity, asking the students to think of as many uses for a hula hoop as they could within a 2 minute time frame. Over 90% of participants recorded less than 10 uses, and almost all suggestions were variations of its main use for exercise or as a toy. Only 10% of the group were easily able to step outside of their usual way of thinking and to come up with some lateral ideas. The restrictive forces of not wanting to be wrong or fearing looking stupid or being judged was a major straight jacket on the groups’ ability to just think.
The key lessons we took from this experience are as follows:
- Natural innovation skills need to be facilitated and guided and they can be learned.
- Business without innovation does not survive; the marketplace is too competitive for a business to succeed without it.
- Businesses and individuals that can and do innovate will more than survive they will thrive.
Innovation has to be planned, scheduled and a process followed. It is more science than art and also must be done in groups to get the maximum effect. Innovation by yourself is really tough. One fantastic tool that helps is www.mindmeister.com, it is a cloud based mind mapping tool that allows you to quickly and easily record your brainstorming sessions and allows collaboration on line with team located anywhere that has internet access.
If you would like to have a chat with us about implementing some new and innovative structures for your team, we would be happy to offer you a free discovery call. Using this link, choose a time that works for you to book in your call.