Innovation as Experimentation

Innovation is a hot buzz word these days. Tech magazines rank the most innovative companies in world. Industry groups do the same for government. So what does it take to actually be “innovative?”

In the book Running the Gauntlet by Jeffrey Hayzlett, Deustch Inc. CEO, Linda Sawyer states, “Be fearless and not afraid of failure. If you don’t take risks, experiment, or empower people to put themselves on the line, you will never innovate, advance, or evolve.”

Putting yourself on the line can be tricky if you become paralyzed by the fear of failure.

In order to get past the fear of failure, organizations must embrace a culture that says it’s better to try-and-fail than to stagnate into irrelevance.

Author, Peter Sims, suggests in his book Little Bets how organizations can begin to shift their culture. “Finding ways to fail quickly, to invest less emotion and less time in any particular idea or prototype or piece of work, is a consistent feature of the work methods of successful experimental innovators.”

As you begin to allow for small-scale experimentation, failure takes on a new light. No longer is failure some big crushing, disruptive blow. Rather a trial that turned out ok or it didn’t. If it did, great! How do you improve upon that success? If it didn’t, what can you learn from it that you can take into your next experiment?

Embracing this trial-and-error approach to problem solving is what ultimately leads to true innovation.

So, the next time you have a problem that needs solving. Try starting out with re-framing how you look at the situation. Bite off smaller chunks and approach each one as a learning opportunity. You might just find that by the time the project is done, you got further along than you ever dreamed.

Want to hear more great advice about innovation from Peter Sims? Check out this video:

Original post on Reach the Public.

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