Just How Innovative Do You Need To Be, Anyway?

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Really, not very! The key thing is to always be on the lookout for ideas and find ways to make something that currently exists better, or simply find a better way of doing something that’s already being done. I once heard Brian Tracy say that an idea really only has to be about 10% or so “new” to be worth a fortune!

Consider these examples:

  • Ray Kroc didn’t invent a better hamburger or even found McDonald’s, but he took an existing product/business and turned it into a replicable system.
  • Sam Walton didn’t invent retailing, he just made an innovation of “going where they ain’t,” building discount stores in small towns and refining his buying systems to make Wal-Mart the giant it is today.
  • Martha Stewart didn’t really invent anything new, she just made it chic to be into designing and decorating.
  • The FOX show COPS simply had film crews follow real police officers around and capture their activities on film and share them with the rest of us…
  • Jean Nitech, founder of Weight Watchers, took the USDA food table and packaged it more effectively to create a much more marketable system that sold like crazy!

And so on! You probably thought of some similar examples. The key is to not try to hold ourselves to the difficult task of trying to be “creative,” but to instead simply look for connections. An even better idea is to not depend on upper management, the marketing department, or a consulting team to make these connections, but to train everyone in the organization to look for them and to reward even the smallest contributions! Making sure you have ongoing dialogue with your customers is crucial, too. That’s how you foster a culture of innovation.

My colleague and creativity guru John Storm has a lot more to say about the huge payoffs that can come from building this kind of a culture in the organization. I hope to have him as a visitor on my BLOG sometime in the future, but you can meet John for yourself here.