Everyone Can Innovate
We invest a lot of time in training and study to prepare us for the job and career we want to be in one day. The only problem with the whole thing is that you are not supposed to do your job. You are supposed to do it better. At least if you want to make a difference in your career. It’s that ability to do it better that you can’t easily train or prepare for and yet it’s that innovative mindset which will separate you from your counterparts in your career. People remember you not by the fact that you did your job, but how you did it and that you added something to the profession and job during your time in the role.
So, what I want to call you towards today is to find those things that can be done better and do them better. The call to innovate and stop making excuses for not doing it. Yes, there may always be obstacles in your way preventing you from finding the time to invest in doing things more, but the truth is, those pressures will always be there. The opportunity to innovate is often short lived and you need to jump at it when you see it.
Some argue that they simply don’t have the mindset to innovate and in truth not everyone has the personality to be a visionary and dream of broad sweeping new innovations that will shape the workplace. However, the most powerful form of innovation is not always the big bold ideas, but the subtle improvements that we make along the way. For example, we all saw Steve Jobs as an innovative thinker, but he wasn't innovative because he invented anything new, he just took existing ideas and improved on their implementation.
You might not be a Steve Jobs in your ability to influence, but you can still find areas for improvement in what you do and it can be equally as impacting, towards yourself and your company. Innovation is simply doing something better and that applies to all of us. If you sit in meetings, how can you run meetings better and more efficiently. If you’re typing an email – how can you get better at writing emails more concisely? The truth is, we often fail to innovate because we’re too focused on trying to make that big change and forget that there are many small things that we do each day that we can do a little better. All it takes is a little bit of time. Improvement and innovation is just as important, if not more important than your existing project or deadline. While you shouldn't miss your deadlines, you should ensure you invest enough time in improving yourself.
Another aspect of innovation that is required to achieve this is a dose of humility. We all want to be the bold, brash person leading from the front, but a real innovator sits at the back and asks his colleague and friends, 'how they can do it better?'. They would rather spend time with their colleagues and learn and ask them questions about even the most menial tasks in the hope it can help make them better. It’s not often what we associate with innovation when we think of big visionaries, but it’s the best way we are going to learn about ourselves and do it better. The hunger to learn and see yourself needing improvement in your career is what will drive you to innovate.
The last think about being innovate is to be true to yourself. Perhaps you’re working in a technical industry, but find you struggle in keeping your technical skills up to date or your skills aren't as good as those around you. What is your strong suit? Your time-keeping, product knowledge or perhaps even your humor? Think about how you can use that in your daily job to make the day a little better and easier for your colleagues. That in itself is innovation that can make a difference. I’m not saying we mustn’t improve our faults; we need to always get better at rectifying these areas. But if you play to your strengths, you are guaranteed a better shot at winning. Look at any successful sports team and that’s how they do it. It applies to innovation too.
In summary – we can all innovate. You just need to make the time for it, be humble, willing to learn and play to your strengths. Now get out there and be better.