Mok O’Keeffe, founder of innovation consultancy The Innovation Beehive, shares his tips.
1) Look outside
To get different ideas, look in different places. The greatest innovators are shameless about getting inspiration elsewhere. We call this approach ‘Parallel World Thinking’. Steve Jobs got inspiration for Apple’s Genius Bar from watching the concierge desk in a five-star hotel. Where can you go for inspiration?
2) Challenge the assumptions
Innovators love to imagine what could be possible and are not constrained by the current rules of the game. A good way to do this is to list all the things you know to be true about a challenge you are working on and then list the exact opposite of that truth. Now ask yourself – if the opposite were true, what ideas does this give me? This is a quick way to come up with new ideas daily.
3) Experiment daily
Move out of auto-pilot and see the world with fresh eyes. Practice daily by challenging yourself to complete routine tasks in new ways – can you take a new route to work? Can you take the bus rather than drive? These small changes will open your mind to new possibilities.
4) Spend time with your customers
When did you last spend time with your internal customer or the end user of your business’s product or service? Get out of your office and immerse yourself in the world of your internal and external customer. It will give you real insight into their problems and enable you to work with your suppliers to provide more impactful solutions.
5) Take a calculated risk
In order to grow, Jeff Bezos says that Amazon will have to take risks and that means some things will fail. Its third-party vendor platform failed three times but each time the learning was used to innovate a better solution. Where can you take a calculated risk? Do you always need to use the preferred supplier list, or can you try that start-up and bring their energy and fresh point of view into your business?
6) Create stretching objectives
Formally challenge yourself and your team to come up with new ideas, measure them and reward them. At X, Google’s ‘moonshot’ factory, employees are encouraged to create solutions that are 10 times more innovative and creative than anyone would think possible. Most organisations might settle for 10% improvement, but if you really want innovation, you need to set the bar higher than that.
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