If I were to ask you to name an innovation, what would you say?
The iPhone? The Tesla? The Internet?
Maybe not any of those three. But the odds are that whatever you name would be a biggie. Something groundbreaking and game changing.
And that’s kind of what we think innovation is. Something groundbreaking and game changing. We associate innovation with names like:
- Steve Jobs
- Marie Curie
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Elon Musk
- Thomas Edison
And look, there’s no question that these people are innovation rock stars. If there were a Mt. Rushmore of innovation, they’d be on it. The innovations they created with changed the world.
But what about the rest of us? Don’t we count?
That’s a trap that we fall into. We think that if we’re not inventing the next iPhone—or at least being chosen for a MacArthur Genius Award—then we’re not really innovators.
I hear it all the time when I speak to organizations about innovation, creativity, and breakthrough ideas.
“Oh, I’m not creative.”
“Francis is the innovative one, not me.”
“I’ll leave that up to the ‘idea people.’”
Because we only associate innovation with the ideas that changed the world, we think that anything less than that doesn’t really count.We only associate #innovation with the ideas that changed the world; we think that anything less than that doesn’t really count. #leadership #producingresults Click To Tweet
That would be like somebody saying, “I’ll never be able to play the piano like Horowitz did, so why even take that first lesson?” (Sadly, there are plenty of people who think this way.)
Well, I’ll never be able to play like Horowitz either, but I still have a blast pounding away on my Steinway. And occasionally, people actually tell me that I sound good!
Here’s my point.
Innovations don’t have to be world class in order to be innovative.#Innovations don’t have to be world class in order to be #innovative. #leadership #producingresults Click To Tweet
Innovation and creativity are really just answers to the question, “How can this be better?” Creativity is the idea part; innovation is the implementation part.
So if you come up with a creative idea like, “Hey, what if I add a little applesauce to the meatloaf mix,” and then implement that idea by actually making the meatloaf that way—congratulations, you’re an innovator!#Innovation and #creativity are really just answers to the question, “How can this be better?” #producingresults Click To Tweet
If you say to your team, “You know, we could save paper by changing the default to 2-sided printing,” you’re an innovator!
It doesn’t have to be Mt. Rushmore or nothing!
Here’s the real difference between an innovator and a non-innovator. The non-innovator looks at a situation, says, “This sucks!” and then stops. The innovator looks at the same situation, says, “This sucks!”—but then asks the follow up question: “How can this be better?”
The non-innovator whines about the situation; the innovator fixes the situation.
You don’t have to be Steve Jobs, Marie Curie, or Elon Musk to be an innovator. You just have to be you.
Or, more accurately, you just have to be the you that asks, “How can this be better?”