Updated June 7, 2023
Innovative Every Day
Being innovative means being creative and original in solving problems, creating new products or services, or improving existing ones.
Innovative and creative ideas often come from external sources. A book, a quote, an unorthodox menu, a presentation that makes you smile, music, or a conversation with a co-worker can create that spark within you to develop new and innovative ideas.
What is Innovation?
Innovation is creating something new or improving an existing product, service, or idea that adds value to society or industry. It involves finding creative solutions to problems or challenges and implementing those solutions to create positive change.
Spiritual teacher and world-renowned speaker Deepak Chopra said – “Don’t think out of the box. Get rid of the box.” If you’re starting your career or you are a professional with a few years of experience already, you would know that there’s a phrase always being said to the juniors by seniors when they want the latter to be more innovative – “Think out of the box.” To them, Deepak Chopra’s advice is very much relevant. There’s no question of going out of the box when you need to be innovative.
Obstacles to getting rid of the box?
The environment matters. Even if we say that we need to take charge of the environment and our thoughts, we are subconsciously affected by the environment and the people around us. What if we want to be innovative, but the boss and the organization’s culture only believes in stereotyping? What then? We already know that clarity precedes mastery. So, knowing the obstacles is important to deal with them later.
- Autocratic leadership: If you’re part of an organization that tells you what to do at what time, you may feel that you don’t have time for innovative ideas. But no one can take charge of your choice, and you can be creative and innovative under these circumstances.
- Seniority-based promotion/decision making: If you know Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Model, you would know that India, China, and other Asian countries offer a promotion based on seniority. But it is changing fast. People and employees are valued for their experience. But along with experience, there’s another equally important thing, i.e., innovation. No matter where the innovative ideas come from, they are worthy of consideration if valid for the company’s growth.
- Risk-averse organization: Many organizations don’t want to take a chance with something disruptive. They love status quo and avoid testing new ideas. But they don’t realize that what brought them here will not take them where they want to go. They need new ideas to expand their horizon.
- High-demand schedule: Many jobs need you to be always on your toes. Maybe you have no time to relax every day and are always busy. In that case, it’s difficult to be innovative, right? Wrong.
The above situations can create obstacles in your innovation path. But stepping stones are often seen as stumbling blocks. What if these limitations offer you the opportunity to be more innovative?
How to be more innovative every day?
#1. Build Muscles
Sounds funny? Being innovative and coming up with new ideas is like building muscles. When you want to build body muscles, you go to the gym and exercise. Coming up with new ideas and being innovative are like building muscles in the body. Doing it will build muscles for innovation and be easier over time. To be effective in innovation, author James Altucher advises everyone to develop 10 new ideas daily. The ideas can relate to anything from personal to professional to spiritual life. If you keep coming up with 10 new ideas every day, eventually, you will become an idea machine.
There’s a significant benefit if you can stand and deliver or do your work. You would be able to come up with better ideas and can be innovative. If you have observed the sudden change in working style, many people have standing desks. Sitting is new cancer. But standing while working and meeting will not only help you avoid the shortfalls of sitting but also help you think better and become more innovative.
#3. Seek Inspiration Everywhere
Business Philosopher Jim Rohn said – “Don’t miss anything. Don’t miss the music, the lyrics, the song, and the book. Don’t miss, don’t miss.”
Seek out everything for innovative ideas. Don’t just get out of the box; get rid of the box and look around you. There’s always something or the other looming large to offer innovative ideas and inspiration. You don’t know; maybe a song, the lyric or a quote or a menu, or simply a conversation with a co-worker can spark new ideas within you and change your life utterly. Your job is to tap into the opportunity.
#4. Concentrate on Tiny
Do you think that only big ideas work or make a difference?
If you think like that, have you ever heard this phrase – “Little things are big things”?
If you know about the compounding effect, you will know that what you do daily makes a huge difference over time. For example, suppose you come up with one idea to change the structure of your schedule, which saves you 10 minutes a day. Now you may think 10 minutes don’t make much difference. But calculate 10 minutes for a year, and it would be around 2500 minutes saved if you work 250 days a year. 2500 minutes saved means you could save approximately 41 man hours over a year. Can you see the difference now? By devoting 10 minutes daily, you could generate a week’s time.
#5. Find an Accountability Partner
Everyone has a buddy. In a professional setting, there would be someone whom you can talk to regularly about almost anything. Share this idea with them. Ask them to join you and be accountable to each other for new ideas. If you do that, you can have more ideas together.
Suppose you come up with 10 ideas every day. S/he comes up with 10 ideas again every day. When you share these ideas, you can have 20 ideas daily. Be accountable to each other about developing new ideas and being innovative. You can also help each other implement one idea per week among all ideas you come up with. In this case, also, both will be accountable to each other. Pick an idea that you think you want to work on. Ask your buddy to pick one which s/he will be working on. And make an action plan. Let each other know how you’re going to implement the idea. And get going. It would be fun, and you would help each other improve.
#6. Stop your Brain from Stockpiling
There’s a beautiful idea about communication shared by Professor Matt Abrahams, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He said that to be effective as a speaker, you must not block your mind and not allow your brain to stockpile. To demonstrate this idea, he picked up all the people sitting in the audience and asked them to point fingers at anything and tell a different name of that thing other than what it is.
For example, if “A” points the finger at the floor, he would blurt out – “Car,” or if “B” points the finger at the stage, she would say – “Terrace,” and so forth. This method is useful in communication and daily professional life, where you want to be more innovative. All you need to do is stop stockpiling and do it another way. Take a small project, to begin with, which doesn’t have much impact on the organization. Then find a way to complete the project that is different from what you normally do. Be innovative. Find out new ideas and then implement them. See how it goes. And then keep on doing these experiments for big projects as well.
#7. Get Out of Your Way
You are the biggest obstacle to your creativity. Back in your mind, you murmur those words – “I’m too dumb to come up with new ideas” Is it true? Test it. Force yourself to come up with new ideas and stop criticizing yourself. Start with your favorite thing, and then gradually, you can do the same with your professional projects. To be more innovative in your daily life, you only need to get out of your own way. Don’t be an obstacle. Help yourself get more creative and innovative.
#8. Reframe the Situation
This is a unique way to examine any typical issue you want to solve. Suppose you want to reduce the cost of your organization. But you don’t know how to do it. Imagine Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is standing in your place. How would he solve the problem if he were you? The idea is to ask yourself – “What my hero would do in this situation?” and then come up with ideas from that perspective. Innovation is all about reframing or restructuring the situation from a different perspective. You don’t need to think that you’re in reality. You can use your imagination and think that your hero is doing the task, and you will solve your problem, personally and professionally.
These are the ideas you should use to be more innovative in your professional and personal life. Some of the ideas will speak to you directly. Some will not work for you. But that’s okay. Pick something you think will work, start working on them, and leave the rest. We are sure that if you pick one idea from the list and start working, your creativity and innovation will skyrocket, and within a few months, you won’t be able to recognize your old self.