Fostering Creative Innovation for Social Business

Are entrepreneurs by definition innovative? If you look at 85% of people who start businesses (think lawyers, accountants and dry cleaners) then the answer is a clear ‘no’. Truly innovative entrepreneurs with revolutionary ideas start businesses that define entire industries and disrupt business as we know it (think Apple, Amazon and Google). And as information technology continues its’ exponential growth, many of the everyday jobs we take for granted may cease to exist altogether.

That’s why here at Conscious Connection we’ve made it our mission is to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to think differently about ‘business as usual’ by developing truly innovative ideas which have the potential to impact a billion or more people. In the context of social business, innovation can refer to the solving of a problem with an idea that is not only improvement on an old system, but a new way of doing things entirely. But in order to achieve a transcendent result, you must be operating and preparing for the world which is not yet here — the world of five or even ten years in the future. It’s now become our job as innovators to think about and prepare for what that world looks like.

Jeff Dyer, author of the Innovator’s DNA, defines innovation as a great or novel idea that is both useful and implemented. In other words, a great idea on it’s own is worth nothing unless it can be executed. With that in mind, here are our four tips for being innovative within your own company or organization:

1. Generate An Insight

The best way to generate an innovative insight is to talk to people from both within and outside your industry about particular problems, frustrations or roadblocks they may be facing. By networking with diverse people you will gain new ideas and perspectives which normally may have been missed within your own company or organization. Using keen observation and active listening skills, this type of focused inquiry often leads to an insight and opportunity. By regularly asking provocative questions and observing the world from the perspective of an anthropologist, you open yourself up to valuable insight.

2. Validate / Test Your Idea

Once you have an insight, it’s time to come up with a solution to address a problem.  By connecting typically unrelated insights there is an opportunity to create disruptive new business ideas. It’s at this point you also want to ensure the idea is a problem worth solving. This is where tools such as crowd sourcing and rapid digital experimentation come in handy. Thanks to these new methods, it is easier than ever to test and validate and idea before investing a large amount of resources into something with no proof of concept.

3. Prototype A Solution

Once you’ve generated an insight and confirmed a market need for your innovation, now comes the time to prototype a solution. It is at this stage you want to focus on rapid experimentation and lean start-up. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers. In a social context, innovation helps create new methods for alliance creation, joint venturing, flexible work hours, and creation of buyers’ purchasing power. According to Jason Dorsey, “It helps to think about creating your opportunity canvas or solving your problem as if you had no money, no connections and only 24 hours to meet a challenge. We too often rely on ready-made resources—think PowerPoint templates—instead of tapping into our raw creativity and vision. These resources become a crutch that holds us back and makes us dependent rather than creative. Take away the “easy outs” and you’ll be shocked how creative you can be.”

4. Develop the Business Model

Once you’ve flushed out a solution, it’s time to develop your go-to-market strategy. You’re going to want to validate the viability of this model before launch in order to mitigate as much risk as possible. You can achieve this by applying the same principles of rapid experimentation and lean start up. It’s also important to understand the different types of innovations to ensure you are applying the correct strategies to your specific situation. Innovations are typically divided into two broad categories: Evolutionary innovations (continuous or dynamic innovation) that are brought about by many incremental advances in technology or processes and revolutionary innovations (also called discontinuous innovations) which are often disruptive and new. Innovation is synonymous with risk-taking and organizations that create revolutionary products or technologies take on the greatest risk because they create new markets. When it comes to innovating at your own company, run through the following sub-tasks and questions:

  • What do you want to innovate? Identify the why, where, what and how.
  • Outline desired outcome or intent plus 2-3 hurdles or constraints that are holding progress back.
  • Reach out to 3-5 people in other industries. Tell them your desired outcome / constraints to see if they faced similar hurdles and how the overcame them.

Using these simple methods and ideas, you will be able to come to an innovative idea fairly quickly! What type of innovation and ideas have you implemented? Let us know if the comment section below!

About The Author

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Anthony Chiaravallo is a modern day eco-renaissance man with a passion for social business and a love of all things creative. As Founder / Publisher of Conscious Connection, he's committed to empowering people everywhere to be the change the world needs while designing the ultimate lifestyle in the process. Always in pursuit of a new adventure, he can often be found running Conscious Connection during mountaineering expeditions or eco-surf trips.

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