“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare.
We’ve created systems that allow for our team to think differently so that we’re in a near constant state of innovation. The act of thinking and the process of coming up with more imaginative ideas and then taking action is a much more scientific method than most like to admit. Innately we know this. Here are four ways to provoke thought that work for us that I’d like to share:
1. Start with Simple.
Understand the simple stuff deeply. Seek where you’re missing expertise, dig in to learn it, and learn it inside and out, and then move forward. In my business we have become so good at the simple processes that we have taken a process in social media that any business owner with the right motivation could certainly DIY themselves, but because it’s become so fluid, so simple and so efficient, we now add exceptional value. Because we spent the time that our clients don’t have we can now offer innovative ways to approach every social media campaign from a different perspective. Learn the simple stuff and build on that. You can’t play a concerto without first knowing the scales.
2. Screw it up.
Every so often we mess up, and that’s OK. Lately however I’ve been pushing myself and my team to color outside the lines intentionally. Empower your team to take risks and make small mistakes. This is the only way you’re going to learn and push the line of standard. Allow for your junior people to step up and take risks as well. Sheltering them in process and protocol only hurts their development and the innovation of your team. Trust them, trust that you’ve hired well, and allow for them to make mistakes.
3. Ask hard Questions:
Raise questions to clarify and extend your understanding. The right questions will help you see connections that you will miss otherwise. This is a tricky one. You don’t want to create an environment when everything is being questioned, but enquiring properly and from a pure place, and create an environment where asking “why” is accepted practice.
4. Look behind you.
When the new ideas start to pop up you need to step back, take a breath and see where they came from. Close your computer, sit with a piece of paper, and think about where the last innovative idea came from within your organization. Ask for help. Inquire internally and see if you can document the last time someone really cracked things open.
My most recent big innovation came while traveling. I was alone in my hotel room, reviewing our processes and challenging myself to improve, push, grow and expand the business beyond what I could conceive. I asked myself – “what would you do at Silverback if money was no object”, and it hit me. I began to roadmap my idea. I pinged my team to bounce the idea off them, and we got to the business of making it happen. Now I try to calm my mind and ask that same question over and over and over “what would you do at Silverback if money was no object.”
At first blush it all seems so simple, doesn’t it? We all want to come up with more imaginative ideas for our business, but when will we find the time? When we’re left to our own devices we go off on tangents, but when we take the time to outline and frame our course of action, everything falls into place. The basic methods are fundamentally the same in school, business, arts, personal life, and sports. Those methods can be described taught and executed.
I love what I do, and I’m lucky, but I find that thinking …real, deep, introspective thinking has become such a rare commodity that I have had to find a road map to become more efficient in my thinking, otherwise I drift off into unproductive daydreaming. I’m sure you feel the same way. We’re in the ever-constant mode of doing, and we rarely have the time to become introspective and really think about the issues that hold us back from over performing. Over the years I have become exceptionally proficient at this process. I shut everything down, pull out my notepad and think.
Brilliant innovators create habits of thinking that lead to break through and innovation. There are practical and proven methods that lead to these breakthroughs. Education doesn’t stop with your college days. Learning habits of thought that equip you with the tools to take on everyday life will be invaluable to your success. You will create an environment of innovation, support and through providing systems that will allow for you company to outperform, outshine, and out smart your competition. Looking at the world differently by creating habits of mind that frame the world around you differently will change your game.
Transformative ideas means surrounding yourself with people that will challenge you, not by surrounding yourself with the same peers you’ve encountered in the past. Putting yourself in situations that challenge you and take you by surprise is hard. My friend Justin Brown is a business owner, and he challenges me every single time I sit with him. Last week he turned to me and said “do the shit that is hard.” Simple, right? Wrong. Seek difficult bumps in your business. Identify the things that make you cringe and turn toward them.
Creativity is not magical inspiration. Extraordinary people are just ordinary people who frame problems differently.