Today’s post was written by Jeff Goins. Jeff is a gifted writer, creative, and innovator. He has worked at Adventures in Missions for 4 years. Jeff has a great love for the art of innovation. I’m excited for you to read his thoughts below…
I recently changed jobs. For the past four years, i was working in our organization’s marketing department. But I always had a secret love affair with ideas. I loved innovation. The prospect of constantly doing new things each and every day and bringing meaningful change to the work that we were doing was, well, seductive to me.
So, when I finally got the opportunity to rewrite my job description, I made sure that innovation was at the heart of what I did. Since then, I’ve been studying what some of the most innovative companies in the world do, and I’ve learned a few things about the process.
As I’ve been learning this stuff, I’ve come to the conclusion that these ideas are so basic and so universal that any organization could adopt them to make their organization more innovative.
Here are six tips about innovation and creativity that I’ve learned from organizations like IDEO, Apple, and Behance.
1) Make room – You innovate by making room in your organization for mistakes to happen, for forward-thinking experimenters to test out ideas. The best example I’ve ever seen of this is how IDEO structures their organization and office. They literally have an airplane wing sticking out the side of one of their walls, just because they thought that it would be fun. (Can you argue with them?)
2) Get organized – Creativity needs rails. Innovation requires some guidelines in order for you to make a difference. Scott Belsky, founder of Behance (a network of creative freelancers) studied some of the most creative leaders in the world and found a common denominator: not their creativity, but their organization.
Belsky distilled their best practices into a simple, creative-friendly system called the Action Method (which is what I use to get things done). It’s simple and is based on the premise that ideas are no good if they aren’t realized.
3) Use your eyes – Innovation begins with vision. Steve Jobs is renowned for seeing what others can’t see. His competitive edge rests on his ability to look years into the future and infuse it into today’s products.
While you may not be able to be Steve Jobs, you can start using your eyes more. The folks at IDEO believe in observing ordinary people in everyday situations to test their products and solve problems — more than doing controlled experiments and focus studies.
In addition to people, watch products. The world’s leading innovators aren’t creators; they’re copiers. They observe functions of useful products or services and cross-pollinate them with others.
4) Ship and tweak often – The best ideas happen in spurts, and the best innovation happens in iterations. Just look at how often Apple releases a new product. You’ll usually see them ship something new every three months (whether it be a new operating system or an updated iPod).
They keep their products fairly simple, get the quality to “good enough” and ship it. Then, they troubleshoot, tweak, and ship the next version. If you’re going to be innovative, you have to get over your fears and be comfortable with the world seeing your less-than-perfect product.
The whole goal of innovation is this: Fail fast. Read that again. If you don’t get anything out of this article but that one idea, then you didn’t waste your time reading it. You must ship; you must fail your way to success. And if you’re going to stand against your competitors, you’re going to have to do it quickly.
5) Anticipate problems – Tom Kelley says the great innovators “expect the unexpected.” They see problems (and solutions) before they’re needed. If you’re paying attention, you can do the same.
6) Include outsiders – This is another IDEO method. They intentionally build eclectic teams and invite feedback from strangers. Involving people from a wide range of skill sets and experiences allows you to ask better questions. Get people outside of your industry involved so that they can poke holes in your ideas and come up with better solutions.
So what are you waiting for?
- Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
- Purple Cow by Seth Godin
- Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney
- The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley