In his recent article, “Are There Any New Marketing Ideas Left Under the Sun?” author Jeff Beals sums up the “quest for innovation” nicely. He says that we need:
- cutting-edge ideas
- new ways of thinking
- to do things that none of our competitors are doing
So, this post is dedicated to all leaders, in any industry or organization, who want to have their teams think more innovatively and share ideas for improvements.
Innovation is tricky. On the one hand, it can be a very sexy idea that gets people engaged. On the other, it can be scary and intimidating. One common fear is whether “my idea is good enough, novel enough, to be considered innovative”?
Yet, what is new, really? I think it’s very rare to see a truly new idea. Perhaps it’s just new to you, your company, or your industry. Maybe it’s taking two ideas and combining them in a new way. Here’s an example: I live in the city of Toronto, and there is a service here called Car2Go. They have smart cars that are available to rent one way. You pay by the minute. I don’t have a car so I find this hugely helpful. It’s cheaper than a taxi and is great for things like getting my groceries home from the store.
This is how it works: I have a Car2Go membership. When I see a Car2Go smart car in a parking lot, I walk up to it, touch the sensor with my membership card and the car opens. I find the ignition key on the panel inside and off I go. At the end of my drive, I park in an approved parking lot, “sign out”, and leave the car for the next driver.
I think this is a breakthrough, cool idea. But, when you stop and think about it, it’s not really new. The idea of renting a car exists. One-way car rentals exist. Smart cars exist. And, billing by the minute exists (for example when you pay for a telephone service). The innovation is bringing all of these ideas together to create something that is so new and so “wow”. As Jeff Beal puts it, the idea is not to “reinvent the wheel “but to “re-engineer it”.
What does this mean for you and your team? It means you should share and discuss regularly:
- what you mean by innovation
- great examples that you see inside and outside your organization.
Continually expanding your definition of “new” creates the right atmosphere for helpful ideas to flourish.