Four Opportunities for Innovation
A short while ago, we conducted an informal survey of business leaders to explore how they perceived creativity, innovation and problem solving. We found that:
- Problem Solving is something they, and the rest of their organization, are very familiar with and do continually.
- Innovation is something that is paradigm shifting. It is desired but rare.
- Creativity is less tangible. They realized it is required but are uncertain on how to account for it.
Considering these common perceptions, let us look at a simple framework for turning problem solving into innovation utilizing a little bit of creativity.
Traditional problem solving has 4 phases or steps:
- Clarifying – Understanding the essence of the problem.
- Solving – Searching for and identifying a solution.
- Planning – Determining the steps necessary to implement the solution.
- Executing – Implementing the plan.
The above steps tend to work perfectly for many problems, especially the ones that don’t require a very innovative solution. However, if you need to work on a problem that would benefit from a little creativity and imagination, try capitalizing on the four opportunities for innovation (one for each problem solving step).
Reframe the Problem
Instead of simply clarifying the situation, find new ways to interpret the issue. Seek unique perspectives from those who don’t embrace the common understanding of the problem.
Originate New Ideas
Stop looking for the right answer and start looking for lots of interesting options. Think about it - If you find the most obvious and straightforward answer you are pretty much guaranteed to get the most common results. If you are really after innovation you must look for a different type of solution.
Enhance the Plan
Two companies can pursue essentially the same idea, with vastly different approaches (…think Encarta vs. Wikipedia). Innovation isn’t just about what we’re doing, it’s also about how we do things. New approaches generate new types of results and new opportunities.
Improvise During Implementation
Planning is a valuable process, but we must remain open to change as we execute the plan. Along the way we will face unforeseen obstacles and gain new insights. Remain flexible and adaptive during implementation. Be open to stumbling upon new value by continuously learning from the implementation processes’ successes and failures.
Using some tried and tested tools and techniques individuals and groups can capitalize on these four opportunities for innovation.
Which opportunity most interests you?