Do you love innovating?
Do you love innovating? If you are like most people (and me), you do. Most people feel it is a great way to contribute to their company’s (or department’s) success. We all like contributing! But when you actually try to do so, frustration comes very soon. Do you know the feeling? Why is this? What is lacking?
Many innovation resources tell us to improve our creative skills (which is a different way of saying we are lacking those). Over the last 20 years I have led many people in many teams and worked in a number of countries. Creativity was rarely the thing people were lacking. It was innovation-specific knowledge that we find too little of.
Innovation requires knowledge not just creativity
Everybody acknowledges that domain-specific knowledge is essential when it comes other creative disciplines. Everybody would agree that to be a good cook, you should sharpen not only your knife but also your cooking skills. To be a good author, you should learn writing skills. To be an actor, you should have acting classes.
But apparently when it comes to innovation, being creative and reading technology articles will do the job. That is like saying if you are slim and watch enough football game, you will be a good football player. Or if you have a good hearing and listen to enough music you will be a good musician. We all know this is not how it works, right?
Like any of these disciplines, innovation requires knowledge. But it is a huge field. And that is a problem. There tens of thousands of books – where do you start? Do you need to study it for years before you can be innovative?
How to get started with innovation?
Could you become a good musician by studying the theoretical background or go to a conservatoire? I bet you could! But that would take a lot of time. Most of us work and don’t have that much time.
Another way to become a good musician is by practicing one song, then another one, then another one and so on. As a cook you can learn to cook one dish, then the next and so on. You get the point.
Innovation tactics are similar. The term has been coined by Deloite consultancy’s Larry Keeley. Innovation tactics can be applied individually or in combination. Most importantly, like a cook or musician, you can learn one after the other and start applying immediately.
Want an example?
The pay-per use was the traditional pricing model in the utilities sector (telephone, electricity). <pricing model –> inno tactic> When learning about this innovation tactic you might realise that it can provide economic benefits for your industry as well.
If you work in the car industry you may know that “it costs an average of $8,558 per year to own a car in the U.S., but each vehicle is used just 4 percent of the time” [Bloomberg]. This is a clear indication there is likely a benefit in this industry. Ask yourself:
- Could this innovation tactic deliver a benefit to my customer or company?
- Who has solved it before, what were their challenges?
- How can I solve those challenges for my company/industry?
The infographic helps you with the answers.
You can check out our article on the pay-per-use innovation tactic for more details.
Who am I?
I have been (and still am) managing large portfolios and programs of over $1 billion in the recent years working in one of Australia’s most prestigious companies in beautiful Sydney. These programs often have dozens of innovative initiates embedded within them.
But admittedly, I also had my geeky times, completing a PhD in engineering, leading very technical R&D projects for research foundations and the aerospace industry. I have been system engineer and architect within the iconic Airbus A380 project (the double deck passenger aircraft) and co-invetor of an US-patented system using satellite communication among other things. This was when I was still living in good old Germany.
I believe in continuing education and knowledge as a leading indicator of your career success. This is why I continued educating myself through a mix of formal and informal ways and would recommend the same to you. The formal ones were just to have some evidence for certain skills – the informal ones, however, were the really valuable ones.
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Boost your innovation skills
I have worked a lot with talented people. I have mentored junior and senior Project Managers, graduates and PhD candidates. And I have always seen the same thing: giving them the right knowledge boosted their ability to innovate in creative, unexpected and unique ways.
I my career I have delivered hundreds of lectures, held hundreds of performance and career discussions and was always motivated by helping people to progress.
I have created these pages because I am deeply convinced that innovation tactics are exactly that: the right knowledge to boost innovation skills of people working in companies who want to make a difference in their job.
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