Time and money take a backseat when inspiring innovation

All too often, when I speak to companies or deliver keynotes to audiences, I can see that the notion of innovation is both intriguing and frightening.  It brings with it the perception that success somehow hinges on time and money. But, how can it be based on time and money when the most innovative thinkers are entrepreneurs?  When they launch new and innovative products or services often they do so with the sum total hours that one or two people can muster…financed by whatever money is left on their otherwise maxed out credit cards.

So, what are the most important elements in beginning on the innovation path?  Your eyes and ears. You have to be able to open them up, listen (not hear) and watch (how your customers are responding to what they are being offered).  Remember, innovation is the improvement of a process, method, product or service; it is rarely the invention of something completely new.

Need proof? Who invented the personal computer, mp-3 player, mobile phone and tablet computer? Not Apple. Who invented television, the television show, sporting event, entertainment special or movie of the week? Not HBO.  Each of these companies ‘invented’ nothing … but have driven their incredible successes by being highly innovative.

They understand that innovation ≠ invention.  And that listening and watching (recognizing) market forces is the most powerful way to lead to breakthrough opportunities. So, like the innovation leaders around you, remember that we start by looking for improvements, not inventions, and know that those are within every company’s means and grasp.

-Ken Tencer

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