How do you begin to develop an innovative mindset?

How do you take innovation into practice? It all starts with habits. And these habits, are not the ones you do on a daily basis. Spend 6 hours of your day in meetings? Putting out fires? Responding to excessive email? Obsessively checking up on competitors?

Nope. Those are the habits that you have to replace with “innovation breeding habits”.

What habits are these?

From closing the innovation gap:

First, stop talking—start doing. Pick a problem that matters to you. Start asking better questions about it. Make surprising observations, network with others for new ideas, and rapidly prototype options to make it work. You’ll be surprised at how the most vexing problems can get solved by individual innovative action. Ultimately, your company’s future rests upon leaders’ persistent personal actions that bridge the great innovation gap.

Got that? It all starts with being proactive. And it starts with you, the Leader. If you don’t develop, and show “innovation breeding habits” on a regular basis, no one in your organization will follow suit.

It doesn’t happen.

For things to change, somebody has to start acting differently. And, that somebody is you.

One more time:

  1. Pick a problem that matters to you (or a customer or industry problem). Simply picking one, or acknowledging that there is a problem, is making progress.
  2. Ask questions about that problem. Why, why, why, why and why?
  3. Go and observe this problem in its habitat. Where does it live (location)? What is its food (driver)? Who are his friends (symptoms)?
  4. Network with people who know nothing of your problem. These people are outsiders, people who may have solved a similar problem in a different domain than yours.
  5. Prototype. If you can’t make something tangible, draw it!

If I could sum up my answer in as the fewer words possible, it is very simple: Care more.

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