Innovation is becoming a hot topic at the moment, so naturally we want to apply an “intelligent disobedience” spin on this important aspect of business improvement. Our take – forget the big idea, think small!
For many, innovation conjures up the notion of “big ideas” that create drastic changes in the business environment. Although that is true, many “innovations” actually come about through small or notional ideas. Consider Facebook for instance – a huge innovative concept that has changed the way many people communicate. Yet it started with a very “small” idea – putting up pictures of Harvard University students for comparison purposes, and later, as a means of creating a community and to simplify contacting students at the University. All in all, a rather limited idea, don’t you think?
So, if you want to be innovative, look at small improvements to products, easily containable projects that can quickly provide value, or seek to solve that annoying problem that “everyone” talks about in your business, but nobody seems to get around to addressing. These small improvement possibilities provide a readily available source for innovation that is within the grasp of many people in the typical business. Let the “baby step”, the smaller idea, grow into bigger ideas through the “force of common sense” and by making a small aspect of your business or your customer’s business, easier to navigate.
As these ideas grow, true disruptive innovation can come about if they are managed appropriately. The scope of the simple idea needs to remain simple however, even when applied to larger business areas. The excitement the idea might generate could catch the attention of senior management. This is great news, but can be a dual edged sword. This management excitement needs to be nurtured with care. Failing to manage this executive enthusiasm can create a risk where the simple idea can morph into something complicated, losing its appeal.
This nurturing of ideas in a bigger context, called Innovation Management, is a discipline that can be implemented via repeatable processes.