How to be an Innovator
Entrepreneurship can be done systematically. It is something that everyone can learn and make a regular practice of doing. Putting together the money, people, and plans for a business start-up is only one form of entrepreneurship. The thing that really sets the entrepreneur apart is his ability to find new means, methods, and opportunities to innovate. And all that is meant by innovating is implementing changes that increase the wealth-producing potential of existing resources.
Learning the discipline of innovation is valuable regardless of your future plans. You don’t have to wait until you’re ready to start your own company in order start thinking as an innovator.
You need not be particularly interested in or good at inventing things in order to be an innovator. Nor are you always required to be on the cusp of some revolutionary idea. Being an innovator mostly involves observation and assessment. It’s about looking at the goods and services that your company sends to market and thinking of ways to increase the yield of the resources used to produce them and the value that they have to the persons who buy them.
Specifically, there are several important sources of innovation that the purposeful innovator should be aware of. They are:
- The unexpected
- Process need
- Changes in industry or market structure
Let’s take the unexpected first. The effective innovator is always on the lookout for the unexpected success or failure or other event that may have an impact on business. The unexpected success of a product, say, may be an indication that the market wants more of a particular kind of thing. As an innovator, you want to ensure that such a phenomenon is seen, and that the possible implications of it are discussed. For it could mean that the company should pour more resources into developing brands similar to the one that was so successful.
Process need is another big one. The popular image of the innovator as inventor does not give a full picture of the matter. Sometimes the most important innovations have come through changes in business and organizational processes. I once did consulting work for a company whose flailing performance had little to do with sales or people or products. It simply had the wrong reporting relationships. A few changes in the way the business was run led to higher productivity and a much better work environment.
The innovator must also be on top of changes in industry or market structure. He must not only see these changes for what they are, but must integrate them into the management of the company. If you are to stay ahead of the competition, you must be aware of the changes going on in the market and industry you’re in. This point is made quite well in an article in the business section of the Huff post.
The bottom line is this. Being an innovator is about keeping your eyes open and your mind clear. It’s about finding new opportunities for making what you already have even better. To be sure, the innovator is not content with making small improvements and minor modifications. He aims high. And in the course of doing so, he tries to create new value and new satisfactions.
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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.