The vast majority of people in large organizations are afraid of innovation and change. The cost of failure is typically so high that avoiding risk altogether is the safest option.
However for a company to succeed long term, it must continually attract new users and customers. And to get those new users and customers, you need new ideas, strategies and products.
Regardless of any corporate rhetoric, creating new products, especially in a large organization, immediately puts you in a difficult “swimming upstream” position. I’ve watched brilliant people with ideas worth trying — ideas that could be crazy or crazy like a fox — get driven into submission when their plans are meeting’ed to death. Mediocrity ensues. The status quo survives. And long term success becomes harder to imagine.
A core tenet to innovating is understanding that nothing is going to work perfectly the first time. Blockbuster Hollywood scripts aren’t turned into movies after the first draft. Developing a new idea is a maze of ideation, testing, learning, and repeating… The key to success is keeping the following points in mind during the innovation process:
- Stop talking about It and do something. Adapting a quote from Van Wilder, simply talking about an idea and holding useless meetings is like sitting in a rocking chair. “It gives you something to do, but you’ll never get anywhere.” Do something tangible. Make a prototype. Talk to users. Hack something together to test with customers. Just do something.
- Don’t over invest in the beginning. Invest as little time, money and effort as possible to legitimately test your thesis.
- Recognize quickly if it’s a good or bad idea. Be honest and objective with yourself. If it’s a bad idea, you’ll know. Pivot. If it’s a good idea, accelerate the velocity.
Innovating puts your and your company on the offensive.