Some people ask me how I can find new ideas around almost every corner, when given an idea be able to find something new on it, a new angle or direction.
The core of this is, of course, the idea of ‘adapt and improve’, which is really what innovation is. It’s a two step process, looking at what you have, the new idea and adapting the new idea to fit into what you have in a logical and efficient way, then looking at how you can take it to the next level.
One example of this is with a client I recently spoke to, that specialises in a field of informatics; I won’t get into what they do, because it’s not really relevant.
So we discussed the enhancements I was to carry out – nothing particularly special, but I looked at what they had, took stock of the enhancements, and added a few ideas that weren’t part of the plan – adapting the changes to broaden the possibilities, then improve the overall power of the system.
The same process can be applied to any system you care to name, and any possible change you can think of; no system you look at or use, will be absolutely perfect – you’ll look at it and think there are things that would make it better for you.
So you take that idea, figure out the changes that would be needed to support that idea – adapt what you have – then look at how that idea can be taken a step further, or a hundred steps further.
It actually sounds simple, and really it is – the hard part is usually not figuring out what to do, but how to do it. The problem is really in the mind; everyone I’ve spoken to that falls into the technical industry doesn’t know how to innovate, because they are so concerned about how you implement something, they don’t stop to worry about the fundamentals, about the steps of adapting and then improving.
Or worse, they focus on implementation first. This usually results in an ‘improvement’ that is an improvement that hasn’t been adapted to the relevant environment (such that it might be an improvement in and of itself, but without being adapted to the environment, it is usually an encumberance to users), or that it is a change that has been so completely adapted to an environment that it fails to improve – thus it is simply different rather than better.