Innovation Begins with Accepting Responsibility

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Innovation enables businesses to thrive and grow. As Peter Drucker said, "Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship... the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth."

And it begins with accepting responsibility.

I heard about a professional who was asked by a client if they offered a discounted rate based on volume.  And this professional would tell them that he was sorry but his rate was fixed. Often they would agree to that rate but every now and then he would lose a new client. Some time later he wanted to learn to play the guitar so he found a guitar teacher and told him that he was interested in an ongoing relationship and asked whether he would offer a discount for a number of lessons. And without missing a beat the teacher said, you know a lot of people tell me this and often they wind up not coming back, so here's what I'll do: you pay the standard rate for the first ten lessons, after which I'll give you a discount on the next ten. Ah hah! Thereafter when a new client asked for a discount on volume he had an answer which satisfied the client's desire as well as his own need to ensure fair pay for his work. And perhaps more importantly he built trust.

His ah-hah moment came from accepting responsibility for his clients' needs -- even though he didn't have a solution available for them at the time -- and being open to new ideas, wherever they might appear.

Accepting Responsibility

Accepting responsibility for the needs of your customers is the first step. By being aware of their pain-points and issues you set the incubation process to work, you plant a seed in your mind allowing it to gestate in the background, so that when you go for a run, take a shower, or maybe talk with a guitar instructor, something catches your attention and hooks onto that issue you have at the back of your mind.

Speeding up the Process to New Ideas

If you're committed to innovating in your business and eager to get started you can speed up the incubation process through brainstorming, researching, and embracing the personal growth that results.

Brainstorm

Observe the issues that your clients have and incubate them by writing them down. Better yet, take out a sheet of unlined paper and write down the issue and then write down everything that comes to mind. Use up the space. There is no right answer here and no one is going to see it. This is scratch paper. Put down every thought that results. Now put it away.

Research and Synthesize

Now that your mind is primed for new ideas, start researching. I like to start with BuzzSumo to search for blog posts on the topic. Read through the top ten relevant results. Then read the comments on each post to learn what others think the author left out. Then search the blogs of the thought leaders in your industry. Take notes on any ideas that come to mind or anything you read that's promising. One of the great benefits of looking to what other people are doing is not that you can copy them -- though certainly staying up to speed and being aware of what others are doing is important, it's just not innovation -- rather, researching gives you a chance to gather material that you can then synthesize to create a solution for your own specific need.

Personal Growth

Ultimately innovation is a process of personal growth. By accepting responsibility, being open to new ideas, and being nimble enough to implement them you will continue to grow in your field and in your own craft.

The Innovation worksheet on BizDevCoach.com will walk you through the questions you should ask while working through the innovation process -- taking a good idea and turning it into a game changing innovation