Innovation is all the rage these days. Everyone want's to be a "disruptor" or "alter the paradigm." It can happen; Uber and Chili Cheese Frito taco shells come to mind.
There's no one way to get there of course. But here's a thought exercise that can expand your mind to new possibilities.
Take a headline from an innovation newsstory, like the following:
Then take a line from the story that sounds like an origin of the idea. In this case, I choose: "During her senior year of college, Rose was dared to eat a fried scorpion while studying abroad in China."
Rose must have taken several dramatic and innovative steps between eating the scorpion and saving the world. Ask youself, what are some possible actions she took that led to such a life-changing result?
Some possibilities include:
1. Rallies her fellow bio students and persuades the college to fund preliminary concepts.
2. Works Lay’s and other large snack companies to obtain popular flavor profiles.
3. Automates proposal submission process with help from Google volunteers.
4. Researches salmon farms and applies parallel concepts to “bug farms.”
5. Reaches out to governments of poverty-stricken companies to promote health and positive outcomes.
Rose probably had her own ideas, but these are the ones that come to my mind. Then you can apply the same principle to something closer to you, like creating new programming, or offering a different product. Decide where you want to end up and back fill it with transitionary ideas.
As Lisa Daily, host of nationally-syndicated morning TV show, Daytime, "“You’ll never get a new ending if you keep starting with the same tired beginning.”
Communicators are always going on about saying “yes.” Agree first and evaluate later. You can say yes to almost anything even if it doesn't initally make sense. “I think we should take all of our employees for a ride on Space Mountain!” Yes, that is an interesting idea. I wonder if that is what's best for the company.”
But there is a step before saying "yes" which doesn't get a lot of focus. First, don't say "no." Saying no is often a knee jerk reactions, especially of there is ego involved, like having an idea or asking for help. But, anyone who has ever been on a date or interview knows a negative response can cut things short pretty quickly.
“Hi! Do you like music?” “No.”
“Good morning. Do you like our new company logo?” “No.”
It’s not about squelching your true feelings, it’s about not leading with contradiction.
Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera Bread had an idea to give their food away for free. In 2010 they opened up a Panera Cares Community Cafe in St. Louis Misourri. Their experimental pay-what-you-can model not only connected them more meaningfully to the neighborhood, but turned out to be cost effective, as well. This innovative idea was a major part in giving Panera Bread “the best-performing restaurant stock over the last decade.”
Someone in that inevitiably awkward conversation didn't say no.
It just makes sense. More ideas are generated, more confidence is given, fewer egos bruised. As every parent everywhere has said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all."
philosopher and 80s rocker Billy Squier said it best...
We live in confusion times
My world is a vice
Nobody gets out alive
But you can break through the ice
Don't say no...