In the age of disruption and innovation, new ideas are emerging faster than ever. Technology and globalization have made it easier than ever for people to transform businesses, create new products and solve problems. However, there can still be obstacles holding you back and overcoming these are the key to achieving transformative results.
According to an article in Harvard Business Review, there are five key elements that link successful entrepreneurs and executives who have beaten these challenges. Each of these factors are based on a decade of research by Harvard Business Review studying innovators from various fields using interviews and surveys of pioneering executives. This research, combined with elements from design thinking, lean start-up and the business model canvas work together to inspire creativity, focus your goals and help you deliver your ideas effectively.
The first of these elements is attention. This involves looking at ideas from all perspectives and understanding them from every angle. Often, people get stuck looking through only one lens, limiting how far they can go. If you change how and to whom you are paying attention to, you can go beyond the realm of your own experience to meet more universal needs. Technology and the internet gives you more ability to do this as you can track consumer behaviour on a large scale.
Your next focus should be perspective. No one is immune to bias, so make sure you always take a step back and consider different points of view. A great way to do this is to mix up your routine and take breaks when you’re stuck in a rut. Getting out of your comfort zone can help you identify a new opportunity that makes your idea even stronger.
Imagination is another critical factor. To make your idea truly innovative, you need to get creative and always ask new questions. Harvard Business Review suggests asking yourself ‘What if we no longer did what we do now?’ This can help you bridge the gap to new opportunities, even if you keep some things the same. It helps if you get diverse opinions and use other people’s ideas to spark your own imagination.
When implementing a new idea, experimentation is going to be a crucial component. Many entrepreneurs suggest making cheap models and testing them often in order to learn quickly and make changes. This eliminates the fear of putting in a lot of work towards something that isn’t quite right. By adjusting your idea often and getting continuous feedback from a tangible model, you will be able to constantly improve.
The final factor to consider is navigation. When you have put so much time, effort and thought into an idea, it is easy to underestimate the logistics of actually bringing it to life. This is where having key partners and overcoming obstacles will become essential. Knowing your market and having investors who are interested, supportive and honest will be the key to bringing your idea to life.
These five elements of innovation provide a framework for you to think about, although every individual process will be different. Don’t be afraid to switch directions as you touch on these points and get closer to creating something groundbreaking.