The key to innovation – small steps

The key to innovation – small steps

We like to think of creativity and innovation as a breakthrough moment made by a special individual with amazing gifts.

This may be true with artistic creativity.

But in the world of organisations and business the truth is somewhat different.

For a start, increasingly innovation is a team game.

A new product is rarely the result of a lone individual working in a corner.

More often it is the result of a team of diverse individuals that have harnessed their talents in pursuit of a collective goal.

It is also hard work by any group or team.

The 1% inspiration and 99% inspiration mantra (Eddison) is probably right.

What’s more, innovation is a series of small steps.

Or what I call — small wins.

There may be a bigger goal but more often than not, achieving any sort of creative breakthrough is a series of small steps, some forward, some back.

And a great deal of trial and error, learning and incremental progress.

As Kevin Ashton notes,

‘Invention is incremental — a series of slight and constant changes.

Some changes open doors to new worlds of opportunity and we call them breakthroughs.

Others are marginal.

But when we look carefully, we always find one small change leading to another sometimes within one mind, often among several, sometimes across continents or between generations, sometime talking hours or days and occasionally centuries, the baton of innovation passing in an endless relay of renewal.’

Kevin Ashton, How to fly a horse, 2015, page 12.

The good news of thinking about innovation in this way is that it can be learned and practiced and everyone can do it.

In other-words it’s a capability like any other that can be enhanced in any team or organisation.

You need the right tools, process and a bit of encouragement.

And make a small step!

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