Having worked in continuous improvement and systems management for many years, I know all about innovation.
I have had many a senior team member come to me about how to “innovate” my systems for them to use. Some have been un-useable suggestions, some ideas even contain anatomical implausibilities, while some have been highly amusing. Rarely have I ever found them very useful.
One of my projects actually offered an “innovation award” each month for great ideas that the team came up with.
When I performed a dictionary definition search for the word “innovation”, I was really surprised at what turned up on my screen.
Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are told that is one of their key delivery points to include in any discussion – how have they “innovated”?
Marketing now comes at you with “innovation”, “innovative” and “innovating” people and products that you must have, watch, see, buy RIGHT NOW!
Do you feel innovated? Or perhaps a bit more like innovation is overcooked? Are you a bit underwhelmed by any claim of “innovating” anything these days?
However, when I looked up the dictionary, just to refresh what the word meant and help me get my mindset on writing this article, I found some really interesting synonyms that are akin to innovation.
Novelty. Modernisation. Revolution.
These words caught my eye over and above the usual words about Originality, Improvement and Invention.
I have always thought innovation was about something new. Something we had never thought of before, when a new solution is provided, is incredibly innovative. And we love it when that happens. A new way to conduct a task – especially if it means that it becomes easier and safer to do – now that is innovation.
The one thing I take from the words above, is that innovation could be fun! I never thought of that. Have you ever?
I take pleasure from being innovative with systems, paring out irrelevancies and inefficiencies, and I do love to document something that has never been documented before, in a new company I am working for, just because I enjoy that kind of challenge. There is a significant amount of satisfaction in the achievement of those tasks. Yes, I accept that I might be a little weird.
Never once has it occurred to me that it is a novelty. I have often been accused of wanting to “start a revolution” when I begin to mess around with systems in a new job, however it never occurred to me that a part of the action of “innovation” was actually revolution. Turns out they were right and I am a rebel leader after all. And I love that concept!! Not so much me as the rebel leader (although I might look great in the uniform) but certainly the idea that a part of innovation is revolution.
That gets me passionate and motivated. A revolution. In a workplace, sometimes revolution can be bloody, dreadful and scarring. And that’s just the first boardroom meeting, let alone the action plans!
But weaving the concept of innovation and revolution together, that is a truly exciting concept. Add a bit of novelty and that sounds like a work place I would want to be at on a regular basis.
Imagine a work environment that you could arrive at each day, knowing that challenging the system was a part of the every day work landscape? Consider for a moment a community of individuals who were allowed to challenge the system and speak out when there is an modern, improved, REVOLUTIONARY way of performing…..
AND they were encouraged and listened to. That sure sounds innovative to me.
What if that could play out in your family lives? Do you feel stuck by some family tradition that plays on repeat at regular intervals? Perhaps innovation could be applied here? What was the original intent of the tradition? Is there another way to fulfil that intent, not lose the reason behind the tradition, but update the action around it? Revolution in the family – prepare yourself and get insurances up to date – just in case! Rebel leaders may experience family issues, but you will never know how novel that family tradition could be until you rub some innovation into it.
Where else can this simple, yet powerful concept show up for you? Just by thinking a little differently, by realising that innovation can include novelty or revolution, where could you innovate? In your usual activities, be they sport, art or other; is there an area that is always troublesome, but never seems to be finalised? That might be the first place to try out some innovation revolution. I would probably not mention revolution; that can have some negative associations with it and you might be surrounded anti-innovators; keep your rebel leader plans to yourself and just make the innovation happen. Then see what happens and watch everyone wonder why they took so long to change!
And so to innovate? To be the innovator? It seems it is a desirable skill to be thought of in that way, so start with something simple to flex your internal innovator muscles and before you know it, that rebel leader badge will be yours.
May the innovations always be with you.
Becky Paroz is a qualified project manager with a particular emphasis on intergenerational knowledge exchange. Available for consultation, creation or just a good chat about development and engagement in the workplace, she can be contacted via email ([email protected]) or through her LinkedIn profile au.linkedin.com/in/beckyp99