Today innovation is needed more than ever for businesses to not only survive but thrive in an uncertain world. But innovation means different things to different people. On a granular level, it means creating new things out of old things. More generally, innovation can mean doing things in a completely new and different way.
For me innovation is a state. It’s something you practice. So if you never want to run out of ideas, here are five ways to stay innovative.
- Expose yourself to new ideas by reading, watching, listening and observing
The best ideas happen in the places people least expect to find them. Moments of inspiration come right after you’ve read a book about a subject you knew nothing about before, or right after watching a random documentary recommended to you by a friend. These moments – or sparks of creativity – result from hearing or learning about something new and combining that with the information you’ve accumulated throughout your entire life.
- Change your environment
Over the past year I have certainly felt a difference working from home versus working at an office in town. Similarly, I always feel a difference when I’m working while traveling (back in the days when we could travel!). Each environment affects us in unique ways and paying attention to these effects on the way we think, work, act, and so on helps us fuel an innovative and creative mind-set.
It’s worth noting that our environment isn’t just about “where” we are working. It’s also about the people we’re sharing the space with.
Some environments naturally foster creativity because they’re full of highly creative people. Other environments hinder innovation because people are driven by other things. So finding ways to not only choose your physical environment but also your community is important in order to remain open and willing to pursue new ideas.
- Challenge yourself to innovate
Every week, or every month do a quick self-assessment.
- What was the last big idea you came up with?
- Where did it come from?
- Where were you?
- Who around you do you find inspiring?
- What gets you in the creative flow?
These are important questions to ask whenever you feel like your creative juices aren’t flowing. Sometimes lack of innovation can be stuck in either your daily habits, your environment, or a mix of both. So taking the time to question what’s holding you back is an important first step to moving forward.
- Be open
Creativity can often feel uncomfortable. If you aren’t open to ideas that challenge the current status quo, you’re going to have a very hard time innovating.
Here it’s also important to acknowledge that, no matter how hard you try to prepare yourself, the world will change. Just look how the current pandemic has impacted nearly every country around the world. Part of being able to pivot and change directions very quickly is being open to the fact that what works today might stop working tomorrow.
- Have Courage
It’s difficult when you believe a new direction is the right direction and 99% of people don’t agree with you. There’s a certain level of self-belief that comes with being a true innovator. You have to be willing to take chances. You have to have courage.