Top companies see innovation as an ongoing capability, not a one shot event. Such companies work hard to build ‘innovation muscle’ around this capability so they can use it as and when it is needed.
Think of taking some form of exercise that actually builds muscle. It could be using weights or some form of bodyweight exercise. It doesn’t matter which. But next time you stand up, bend, stretch or twist you might find it easier or faster.
So what does this so called muscle typically consist of? There is a long list but at the top of the list are how widespread are the attitudes, behaviours and processes both in terms, of people and functional areas. How often do you use the tools that you have invested in or coached people to use?
Building innovation muscle is no different to building body muscle. You need to decide what kind of muscle you’re looking to build. Do you want fast twitch muscle like a sprinter or bulky muscles like a weightlifter. Maybe you need a compromise, but you need to sculpt and tone your muscle. The question is what do you want it to do?
Now let’s look at some things you can do to build your innovation muscles!
If you don’t already, start getting your company used to working out. Start innovating in a small way every day, not just brainstorming or copying best practice. This will help get your organisation primed and ready for what is to come.
Think of it like going for a brisk walk before facing the gym for the first time. You don’t need to be too keen and rush at things, make sure that any activities are deliberate and reach as many people as possible.
As with the gym, you can do a low number of repetitions with heavy weights or a higher number of repetitions with lighter weights. Are you solving huge problems or being a bit more nimble?
Ensure that you have a proper plan, focusing on specific muscle groups (innovation areas), and stick to it. As with a training plan you shouldn’t try to work every (innovation) muscle in your body every day.
This could lead to burning through your budget too quickly, change fatigue or overwork. Remember what happens when you work too hard at the gym, you end up stiff and sore for days!
Those who do frequent the gym will probably have different days for different exercise or working different muscle groups. Learn from the people who put these plans together. Don’t do the same each week. Mix things up a bit to avoid boredom or reaching performance plateaus.
If you keep to these general guidelines and follow your plan, your company will become more competitive and grow in ways that you never imagined. It will not happen overnight, but it will happen!
If you need a little help building your innovation muscle then please get in touch …