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Four Ways To Boost Innovation


We’ve all been stuck in the desert of “been-there-done-that” before. Year after year, our company churns out predictable products and ho-hum services that hardly raises a yawn.

The result? Stagnating or declining sales even as our competitors waltz past us with exciting new products that captures the imagination and wows the media.

To escape this death trap, we need to build creative cultures within our firms. By making an innovation a part of our company’s DNA, we ingrain positive practices that help to spur tomorrow’s inventions and breakthroughs.

Scott Anthony, managing director of Innosight Asia-Pacific (which is based in Singapore), explains in this short video from Harvard Business Review how this can be done.

As highlighted in the video, the first thing one needs to do is to keep an external focus.  This means looking outside your company, industry, or market to identify opportunities.

Consider what your customers’ pain points are. What would they need to solve?  More importantly, are there unspoken needs that are currently not met by existing products or services?

Next, learn from your mistakes. I like Anthony’s citation of the following quote from a famous boxer:

Everyone’s got a plan until they got punched in the face – Mike Tyson

As we all know, failure is the mother of success. Most new products or services do not survive their initial contact with the marketplace.  The proof of the pudding is often in the eating and the best place to learn is the school of hard knocks.

Third, embrace your inner Edison.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Our teachers have taught us how Thomas Edison went out to make things happen. He persevered and kept trying 10,000 times before he succeeded in inventing the incandescent light bulb.

Innovation isn’t just an academic or theoretical exercise.  Rather it comes from practice and doing (remember the 10,000 hour rule by Malcolm Gladwell).  In other words, 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

Finally, we should resist the pull of the core.  This means that you should not fall back into status quo each time, even though it may be more comfortable and familiar.

For sure, every company’s capabilities define what it can or cannot do. Great innovators find ways to overcome hidden weaknesses that inhibit success. They do not just go back to the tried-and-tested, but venture out into new territories.


[Photo credit: Innovation Group]