So what IS innovation?
Two years ago I sat in an audience listening to a cool speaker talk on innovation and wondered what innovation really was and what it meant for me, a business mentor and business owner. A couple of years of research and I’ve decided that it’s a big word that covers a lot of ground.
In the beginning I thought innovation was all about the generation of new ideas and I wondered what the fuss was all about. After all, I’ve always been a greatideas generator but after ten years of good ideas and many lessons (read “a few failures”) I realised I had to observe one critical rule to develop our fifteen year, overnight, successful business – that ideas aren’t enough and to be successful I must design the steps beyond the idea, implement and refine them and keep going until I got a result.
As a small business mentor I cannot stress enough to my clients that it’s having clarity and the consistency of getting things done that leads a business to success.
At its most basic, innovation is more than having good ideas, it’s a complete process where ideas and concepts
are initiated and developed into
to bring about transformation.
Innovation can begin with anyone, occur anywhere and go any distance required to create a result but the critical word is result.
Don’t get me wrong, a result doesn’t always have to be a success, it can be an abject failure with a series of learnings along the way. Most entrepreneurs know that it’s those learnings that help the next idea get from concept to result more easily or faster. Artesian‘s Venture Capitalist Tim Heasly taught me that success for start-ups is a numbers game – many more fail than succeed – but it’s a profitable numbers game for those that get clarity and don’t give up.
Innovation is such a big word that the Australian Government are now using it and heralding it as the future of our country – well at least until the next election! Being funny aside, I actually think they are on the money this time – innovation has the potential to be the making of the Australia of the future.
I really liked what Opposition Innovation Spokesman Ed Husic said on Q&A this week:
“As a nation we are hard-wired to be innovative. We have had to problem solve to survive in an isolated continent where supply lines have been very distant. We have had to make do with what we’ve got.”
As a country, over the past 10 years, we have experienced the down-slide of agriculture and natural resources – a decade or two ahead of many other developing countries. We’ve known for some time now that the bulk of our future success as a country is not in those areas – even though there are some great initiatives and terrific companies still making some headway there. There’s a lot of press on the problems we face as a country – we need to be innovative now. And we can lead the way for those other countries that are still relying on the ground they’re placed on to support and fund them.
I think Australia is pre-primed to be the innovation capital of the world.
As a nation we have produced clever people with clever ideas that the world wants to listen to. We’ve got a couple of cool young generations who have ideas that can lead us forward and we have enough support and freedom for our wise seniorpreneurs to thrive too. We’re connected to the wider world and we’ve got some of the best living conditions anywhere. With the right systems, process and package, Australia could conceivably be the place to be.
We definitely have that potential.
But being the place for innovation will take more than the generation of new and cool ideas. To be truly innovative, as a country, we will need to have the ready availability of the tools, teams and resources that will teach and support our innovators how to get clarity, how to create systems, how design models and how to collaborate. We will need all ages of educators and mentors to be readily available to teach and share the ageless lessons of structure, of commitment and tenacity.
And it’s beginning. We do currently have agencies, governments, organisations and leaders developing models to support our innovators. They are innovating themselves, ideating and designing the most effective messages to attract and support other innovators. They are, in essence and in good principle, practicing what they are going to preach and it’s vital that they don’t give up – their results will determine if we are primed to be the innovation space of the world.
Otherwise innovation will become just another good idea – and we’ve all had plenty of those.