“Just get on with it!”

People are impatient when it comes to innovation. They want to get doing right away and they want to know right now that they have a great idea.  Both of these orientations can hinder the very outcome that they seek.

Before jumping to solve the problem or designing a new innovation, there are some things I recommend you pause to do first.

  • Take time to frame the problem to ensure you are working on the right one.  I have seen businesses rush to solve a problem or to invent only to discover they were working in the wrong space. Money wasted. Project Delays. Rework. Rushing to doing is costly.
  • See the system in which your innovation will live from the perspective of the people/organizations you plan to serve.  To do this, you need to work towards empathy with your stakeholders.  You gain greater insight of the stakeholder and the larger system in which you are hoping to innovate, which helps you crystalize new, relevant opportunities.
  • Prototype. Co-create. Iterate. It sounds like a cycle that would add time to the equation, but it doesn’t. I have had business leaders say this cycle upfront reduces time to market with a successful proposition by half.  Why?  Because when you do this type of iterative learning, you reduce the likelihood that you will have wasted time and money, and importantly, avoided rework. If you do have a “bad idea,” you learn it early on and before major expenditures have been made.
All of this is “preparation”. I cannot think of an endeavor in life that yields great rewards which doesn’t first start with preparation.  Olympic hopefuls right now are completing years of preparation for Sochi. The greats in entertainment, politics, athletics, education, life understand that “overnight success” is a function of many things that have been done before, in preparation.  As the winningest coach in basketball history, Duke’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski says “Everyone wants to win, but not everyone is willing to prepare to win.”
Innovation is no different. Are you willing to prepare to win?
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