This was one of the conclusions of a recent NESTA report looking at the performance of high growth businesses – but what does this really mean? Is it about product development? New technology? Working with a University? Well its all of these but it starts with the way you think and the way you view the world, it about exploring possibilities and promoting diverse thinking. Allowing different worlds and ideas to come together to create something very different and memorable. That’s what high growth companies do. I would encourage any ambitious business person to start looking at their environments through different windows because you then see things you never knew existed. You avoid the rut that so many organisations find themselves in, this leads to blind spots and inertia. New ideas are only stimulated when your mind is given the opportunity to think differently – this is why the Think, Do, Review approach to strategy and execution is so effective…so many people in business just keep doing with giving themselves time to rise above and see whats going on.
Give yourself space and time to open your mind to new possibilities, keep your antennae switched on to whats going on around you. More specifically try some of these practical things to get you thinking in a new way:
1. Go on an overseas trade mission to look at what your industry is doing – get a global perspective. It’s as cheap to go to New York as it is to travel from Manchester to London on the train
2. California in the US is the home to innovation – have a look at what is happening there. Can you learn anything from similar companies to you? – just do a Google search
3. Speak to a University or spend some time with leading academics in your field to see whats coming over the horizon
4. Arrange a brainstorming session with customers to understand their problems and challenges.
5. Arrange for you and your team to hold a strategy day in somewhere completely different – somewhere were you can’t get a mobile signal
6. Explore collaborative opportunities with companies and individuals or activities that could give your company a boost and stand out e.g. Gary Lineker and Walkers Crisps, Innocent Drink Fruitstock, Daley Thomspon and Lucozade, BP Garages and Subway Franchise
7. Encourage staff to come up with two new ideas per month
8. Spend time looking at the trade press to see whats going on, give yourself the space to read the press covering parallel industries e.g if you are an engineering business and you want to improve customers service – look at tourism and hospitality magazines
9.Commission a University student to research an idea you have
10. Spend an hour a day in the open air – if you have not got the time, get up an hour earlier or go to bed one hour later.
11. Get involved with industry networks and forums – speak to like-minded people and share ideas. Get to spend time with individuals who’s achievements you admire
Innovation is all about conditioning the mind to think differently, practice and discipline leads to a new way of thinking. The outcome is you view the world, market and your life from a more exciting angle. Innovative companies do the above things unconsciously. Be aware and get closer to the power of innovation.