Time was when the word “innovation” was something you would only hear in the context of a really big invention.
Scientific breakthroughs would be hailed as being innovative.
World-changing inventions – the light bulb, the airplane, and penicillin – all great examples of innovation at work.
But in the age of digitization, where rules are being re-written almost as soon as the ink is dry, being innovative has taken on a whole new meaning.
Today, if you want to be at the forefront of your field as a technologist, it is no longer enough to be proficient at problem solving.
Most employers in today’s digital marketplace will be looking to talented candidates to bring innovative thinking – and creativity – to their role.
All well and good, but what do we actually mean by innovation and what does the innovative mindset look like?
At its base, innovation is about creating new things, new approaches, and new ways of doing things. It is about taking something – a problem, a challenge, a product – and rethinking it.
Now in a digitized, more interconnected world, and one that is driven by technology as well as globalization, and where the new quickly becomes commonplace, only enhances the pressure to be innovative.
From big corporations to the most agile of startups, from thinking outside the box, to bringing a new approach to the table, or pulling a fresh idea out of the hat—all require creative problem solving. Making those who possess the skills and experience that demonstrates they are indeed innovative problem solvers, even more in-demand by employers.
It is what will set you apart for success—and getting in the door at your dream company.
So that brings up the question:
How do you become more innovative in your problem solving?
Failure is the Road to Success
One of the basics of innovation is accepting failure.
Put it like this: You cannot create anything new if you do not risk something.
Fear of failure restricts our creativity and puts a limit on how far we are willing to go in our risk-taking. But today’s tech industry is so dynamic that if businesses – and technologists – stop taking risks, they will very quickly get left behind.
Failure is an opportunity to learn. So be prepared to get it wrong and leverage the lessons learnt.
That said, if you fail—fail fast.
When you fall, get back up on the horse without hesitation – bringing your lessons learned and new knowledge with you.
Of course, it goes without saying, that part of being prepared means being prepared to break a few rules.
Break the Rules
As the common saying goes: rules are there to be broken.
When you are starting to think innovatively, it is not just OK, it is essential to challenge the status quo.
Explore new ideas, new ways of doing things that shake up the rulebook. And do not be afraid to experiment. Experimentation is absolutely key to innovation.
Nothing new ever came from sticking to well-trodden paths – and that was never truer than it is in today’s world – one that is defined by rapid and continuous change.
Embrace Change, Love Change
Most of us resist change. We do not like it. We are hardwired to stick to the tried and tested. But change is one of the critical forces that drive innovation.
Today’s global economy is characterized by constant change. And innovation is our way of responding, adapting to, and leveraging change to convert it into opportunity.
So be on the lookout for change: for the new trends, new ideas, as well as the disruptive forces molding and changing your sector. Be a change-spotter in your field by staying informed, well-educated and tuned in to what is going. Read the tech news every day if you can.
And do not be change-averse in your own thinking or modus operandi.
Broaden your perspective by being prepared to listen to others.
Listening is a key skill if you want to expand your outlook. And it is important to go looking for new perspectives, diverse insights, and people with experiences that differ from yours.
Be open to new ideas from new sources.
There’s richness in diversity of opinion and experience. Any successful intra- or entrepreneur will tell you the same: Seek out people different to yourself from whom you can learn and gain inspiration. Be open to collaboration, debate and discussion and to having your ideas challenged by others. Robust debate and interchange can take a rough idea and transform it into a diamond.
Two minds or more, after all, are always better than one.
There is probably never been a more exciting time to be alive in our world. Digitization is changing the playing field in ways that we still cannot fathom or fully imagine. And the possibilities are there to be played for.
Developing your innovation mindset is the first step that will take you from idea to impact. Become a part of the dynamic, global workforce by being an innovative problem solver who is ready to present solutions that go beyond the standard.