A new look at innovation
We asked the Interstates Construction (IC) Leader team what innovation meant to them and got several different answers such as, “Implementing new concepts into everyday activities”, Reinventing the Status Quo”, “Inventing new ways to add value to our customers”, “Having an attitude and eyes to do it better by doing it differently”, “New or better way” and many others. The fact of the matter is, innovation is all of the above and is hard to put into words but when we see innovation happen we realize it because it has made our jobs more rewarding and lots easier. Innovation doesn’t necessarily entail creating something new. It’s not the same as invention. Rather, innovation usually involves a fresh perspective on something that already exists—taking an idea and considering how its use can create a positive impact in a new and better way. The process of making this leap is often scary, and requires a certain amount of gumption, as well as leadership, entrepreneurialism, and good design.
Why is innovation important?
There are three main reasons why innovation is important. One, it helps us solve problems of any scale, big and small. Without innovation we are likely to keep running into the same hurdles that we always face, but when we apply innovation those hurdles will be removed. Two, it drives company growth. Research over the past 10 years shows that the most innovative companies outperform their average competitors by as much as 400%. Also for every $1000 a company spends on innovation there is a $7000 return on investment. And three, what kids want to do these days is not to grow up and become electricians or accountants, but to invent… There is excitement in coming up with a smart solution for doing something differently and better than in the past and is a source of personal satisfaction which again leads to a more rewarding career. If we can create a culture of innovation it will be easier to recruit and maintain excellent people.
How can I be an innovator?
Most people don’t think they are all that innovative. It is true that some people are more practiced creators and some people are more practiced refiners, but innovation is a matter of practice, and through practice we can all become great innovators. Both Creation and Refinement are needed for innovation to take place.
There are a few questions to ask yourself which will help you generate ideas.
• What could I look at in a new way?
• What could I use in a new way?
• What could I change, in terms of design or performance?
• What things are making my job hard today that would be great if it were easier?
By: Lowell Dykstra