We all love Innovation but there are times when it isn’t the answer. In fact, there are times when it is the absolute last thing a business should do.
Do NOT innovate if:
- Your current business is declining
- You need immediate results
- You want to play it safe and follow rather than lead
- You’re afraid of losing customers
- You’re afraid of falling behind the competition
- You’re getting pressure from shareholders
- You want to hang out with famous CEOs/be on TV and the cover of magazines
- You read an article/book/had a conversation and it doesn’t seem that hard
- You want to do something fun/different/exciting/noteworthy
- You can
Luckily, there is a corresponding list of times when Innovation is the answer.
DO innovate when:
- Your current business is solid
- You need a pipeline to deliver new revenue now AND in 3, 5, 10 years
- You are willing to take smart risks so you can lead instead of follow
- You want to better serve your customers
- You are confident in the business fundamentals and its future potential
- You believe in investing and building for the long-term
- You care about the long-term health of the business and your people
- You are committed to learning and building an organizational capability
- You are willing to work hard for a long time to do the impossible
- You will
Did you notice some themes in those two lists?
In the first list, you’re reacting. The beliefs, biases, and prejudices of your unconscious mind are controlling and driving you. An event occurred in your environment and now you’re afraid of losing something – great business results, competitive advantage, stakeholder support, your reputation. You’re afraid of losing something so you’re looking for something to save you and innovation is a bright shiny object that everyone loves, and no one will fault you for pursuing it.
In the second list, you’re responding. Your conscious and unconscious minds are working together to take in information, considering the well-being of those around you, and factoring in your beliefs and values. An event occurred in your environment that presents new information. Instinctively you perceive it as a threat but then reframe it as an opportunity to create, change, or improve the status quo. As a sign of your commitment and belief in the possibilities and potential, you use innovation as a tool to drive long-lasting impact.
The next time you consider starting an innovation project, hosting an innovation event, or staffing up an innovation team, pause to consider why you’re doing it. Is the answer on the first list or the second?