Innovation can do many things. It can disrupt an industry, it can provide greater opportunities for growth and development, it can change the culture of a business and it can turn a business around. However, if you’re looking for a quick-fix solution and think innovation is it - you may be disappointed. Innovation is a powerful tool, but it cannot be implemented over night. Its power is manifested over time through a process of learning, research, practise and implementation. At times it can feel like a study in patience, but great things do come to those who wait!
A great example of this is training. When it comes to innovation training, many businesses tend to look toward a period of focused, intensive learning, one that will provide all the answers in a short space of time. Away days are therefore a popular choice. But in reality, how productive are they? Think about when those individuals or teams get back to the office, how much of that learning is actually retained? And even then, who successfully finds the time to implement what they’ve learnt? Away days can inspire and motivate us, but expecting them to result in change is un-realistic and un-manageable.
According to statistics, our brain is only capable of absorbing 5% of information delivered to us in a lecture format, but practical learning helps us to absorb up to 75%. Being able to put what we’ve learnt into practice is key but to do this we need time and space to absorb, reflect, test and then reassess before coming back to continue on to the next step. This is why it’s vital to break learning down in to manageable chunks, otherwise that all-important practical or test-period very quickly gets shoved to the bottom of your ever-growing list of things to do!
Likewise, ideas need time and space to be prodded and pulled. We may think we’ve struck upon a wonderful and unique solution, but we need time to conduct thorough research, to assess the current and future markets, check what competition already exists, test our idea works, absorb all the feedback we gather and logically make assessment about our idea’s likely success and longevity. Rushing full speed ahead often feels like the best option, but it can often result in a lot more time and money being spent than if we’d followed a slower, more structured process.
Ultimately, innovation needs to become part of a culture before it can provide fast fixes. It needs to be embedded to the very heart of a business and the individuals working there, so that it simply becomes a natural part of working life, rather than an added task. Taking a step at a time but actually committing to the change will help to achieve this culture and this in turn will then open up more opportunities and more time. The act of instigating innovation may not be quick, but you’re actually making far more productive, efficient, and most importantly, sustainable changes, and from these, you will continue to reap the rewards!