Why is Innovation So Hard?

Innovation noun  in·no·va·tion \ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən\

1:  the introduction of something new

2:  a new idea, method, or device :  novelty

When you read the word, I'm willing to bet you thought of some amazing piece of technology or a business that reshaped an industry or your life.  That's just fine, especially if there's an entrepreneurial streak in you.  However, if you weren't blessed/cursed with that gene, don't stop reading!  Innovation happens in families, marriages, teams, businesses and everywhere else.  Changing the way something is done (hopefully for the better) is innovation.  So, read this thinking about that idea you won't tell anyone about or read it thinking about getting your spouse to leave their car keys in the same place every day.

There are two types of innovation...

  1. I am going to take an existing process/item and make it better/more efficient. ("Honey, please put the toilet seat down.")
  2. I am going to introduce something so radically different that it will either completely change a behavior or require the adoption of an entirely new behavior.  (Potty-training a child/puppy.)

These are ranked in order of difficulty, but neither is easy.  Innovation is hard, because you are seeking to change/create behavior.  Take a minute and think about the things you have tried to start/stop/change in yourself in your life.  Now, to innovate, you want to do that for a entire group of people. 

In your mind, you see a situation and can't imagine someone not wanting a better way to do "that."  Right?  That person,  your "buyer," wants a better way, until they hear the word "change."  One of the most powerful sentiments in sales, business, management, relationships etc. is "but that's how I've always done it."  That's why really smart guys like David Cummings will tell you, a new product must be 10X better to catch on, be adopted and be a real solution

Real-life application time.  Do you want to change a process at work?  Do you have an amazing idea for the next [insert market you want to disrupt]?  Do you just want to communicate better with your spouse?

  • Set a goal.  What is your desired outcome?
  • Make a plan.  What gets you from current state to desired state?
  • Ask the question: Can I convince someone to take those steps?  Is the goal 10x better than where they are, and how do I convince them that it is?

I try to keep these short, and that was not.  What do you think?