Innovation is an evolutionary process to get better at something

I ran into a former training partner over the weekend, I hadn’t seen him for almost a year since we were teammates in a basketball team. As we were reflecting on the past I was reminded that there are lessons to be extracted from anywhere, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a business case to learn something.

Last year I got invited to play on a basketball team and compete in a basketball tournament, our team trained two times a week for two hours. At the beginning my conditioning was off and I knew I wasn’t going to feel too good with myself (and not help the team) if I didn’t perform at a high level, so in order to accelerate the process of getting back into basketball shape I started experimenting with different work out routines at the gym.

At the gym I tried mixing it up with more resistance exercises but some of the things I tried didn’t yield any results for me, so next I thought that instead of driving to practice I should ride my bike to practice (5 miles both ways) to get some strength to my legs. This worked pretty good but I felt that it wasn’t enough, I wanted something that gave me agility, strength and resistance at the same time in a short amount of time so I kept looking for better ideas.

I started thinking of where I could find accelerated workouts like they do in movies to get actors in shape in a short amount of time, and in my research I found my answer in Men’s Health Magazine where the was being promoted. I downloaded the PDF off their website and printed it so I could take it with me to the gym the next morning.

By the next morning, I knew I had what I was looking for because the workout was beating me and I was struggling to stay on my two feet but it felt really good, it felt different. It’s a ridiculous workout, so much so that I had to cut back on the reps because I wasn’t finishing the workout.

In our next basketball practice I wasn’t struggling to catch my breath, my legs felt powerful and my energy level was very high. My teammates noticed right away and started asking me questions about what I was doing and two weeks after I started that workout I got my teammates to do it themselves.

All in all getting back in shape took me 3 weeks, before this I hadn’t played in a basketball team since I was in college (5 years).

So what does this have to do with innovation?

Innovation is an evolutionary process, you try lots of stuff and keep what works all in an effort to get better at something. That’s essentially what I did, I didn’t innovate anything really nor was I trying to, I just found a way to get better at something by experimenting with different things until I found a better ‘combination of ideas’ that gave me that boost I wanted.

I knew what I wanted, it was just a matter of finding a combination of activities that accelerated that process.

Key takeaways

  • Try different things and keep what works. New ideas come from old one’s. What you need is permanent evolution where you constantly search for a better combination.
  • Break out. I could’ve just kept on doing the same workouts and relying on getting in basketball shape organically just by playing but I wanted to break that pattern and get better faster.
  • Know what you want. What’s your goal?
  • Look elsewhere. Somebody somewhere has had a similar problem for which they found a solution, look for it no matter if it’s not in your domain.

 

P.S. There is another side to this story, adoption, which I’ll post about here tomorrow.

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  • Good analogy and I think another good “gym” analogy is to observe how quickly your muscles and body adapt to even a very challenging routine. So you can be doing things which other people might find very challenging – think 30 combined TRX prone pushups with reverse crunch knee tucks followed by 30 prone oblique crunches.

    Typically people say “Oh I love to be able to do that”, but getting there is the beginning of the next journey!. Once you get there, even though it hurts, the body rapidly adapts within 5 or 6 weeks of staying at that level and the benefits tail off.

    So there is a constant need for CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT and small innovations can make for significant body shocks and new learnings. See, for example, this variation of the oblique crunch.

    I've found that a lot of small innovations can be found by observing others, and adapting. Isn't that kaizen?

    Walter Adamson @g2m
    http://xeesm.com/walter

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  • Hello Walter,

    You're right small things add up.

    More than anything people have to develop the ability to adapt, making changes to their routines, being aware of the changes and then making adjustments all in an effort to get better.

    If you've noticed most athletes, especially the great ones, always talk about 'getting better'. They all have different ways of getting better but the pattern is the same, they never stick to the same routine that worked for them before. They constantly change routines and find better ones (usually outside their sport) that give them an extra edge.

    I think this is the core of Kaizen, getting better all the time either by experimenting yourself and learning from others and adapting.

    Wow thanks for the link, I will try that for sure, it looks challenging. I definitely recommend you try the 300 workout, it's a challenge!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Hello Walter,

    You're right small things add up.

    More than anything people have to develop the ability to adapt, making changes to their routines, being aware of the changes and then making adjustments all in an effort to get better.

    If you've noticed most athletes, especially the great ones, always talk about 'getting better'. They all have different ways of getting better but the pattern is the same, they never stick to the same routine that worked for them before. They constantly change routines and find better ones (usually outside their sport) that give them an extra edge.

    I think this is the core of Kaizen, getting better all the time either by experimenting yourself and learning from others and adapting.

    Wow thanks for the link, I will try that for sure, it looks challenging. I definitely recommend you try the 300 workout, it's a challenge!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Hello Walter,

    You're right small things add up.

    More than anything people have to develop the ability to adapt, making changes to their routines, being aware of the changes and then making adjustments all in an effort to get better.

    If you've noticed most athletes, especially the great ones, always talk about 'getting better'. They all have different ways of getting better but the pattern is the same, they never stick to the same routine that worked for them before. They constantly change routines and find better ones (usually outside their sport) that give them an extra edge.

    I think this is the core of Kaizen, getting better all the time either by experimenting yourself and learning from others and adapting.

    Wow thanks for the link, I will try that for sure, it looks challenging. I definitely recommend you try the 300 workout, it's a challenge!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Hello Walter,

    You're right small things add up.

    More than anything people have to develop the ability to adapt, making changes to their routines, being aware of the changes and then making adjustments all in an effort to get better.

    If you've noticed most athletes, especially the great ones, always talk about 'getting better'. They all have different ways of getting better but the pattern is the same, they never stick to the same routine that worked for them before. They constantly change routines and find better ones (usually outside their sport) that give them an extra edge.

    I think this is the core of Kaizen, getting better all the time either by experimenting yourself and learning from others and adapting.

    Wow thanks for the link, I will try that for sure, it looks challenging. I definitely recommend you try the 300 workout, it's a challenge!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Hello Walter,

    You're right small things add up.

    More than anything people have to develop the ability to adapt, making changes to their routines, being aware of the changes and then making adjustments all in an effort to get better.

    If you've noticed most athletes, especially the great ones, always talk about 'getting better'. They all have different ways of getting better but the pattern is the same, they never stick to the same routine that worked for them before. They constantly change routines and find better ones (usually outside their sport) that give them an extra edge.

    I think this is the core of Kaizen, getting better all the time either by experimenting yourself and learning from others and adapting.

    Wow thanks for the link, I will try that for sure, it looks challenging. I definitely recommend you try the 300 workout, it's a challenge!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Hello Walter,

    You're right small things add up.

    More than anything people have to develop the ability to adapt, making changes to their routines, being aware of the changes and then making adjustments all in an effort to get better.

    If you've noticed most athletes, especially the great ones, always talk about 'getting better'. They all have different ways of getting better but the pattern is the same, they never stick to the same routine that worked for them before. They constantly change routines and find better ones (usually outside their sport) that give them an extra edge.

    I think this is the core of Kaizen, getting better all the time either by experimenting yourself and learning from others and adapting.

    Wow thanks for the link, I will try that for sure, it looks challenging. I definitely recommend you try the 300 workout, it's a challenge!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

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