As I dare organizations and individuals and college students to Do the New, the word “innovation” comes up a lot.
How do we innovate?
How do we create something new, do something new, stay relevant?
My friend Greg Satell, has written a great book, called, “Mapping Innovation” and his theory is all great innovators do one thing: they look for problems to solve.
Greg says you find “stuff to fix” and to do that you have to spend time discovering what that is and then work to find solutions. He’s often talking to big corporations.
Still, I believe it applies to all organizations large and small as well as individuals, too.
I learned through my journey of doing something new every day, I had to experiment, I had to take risks to solve the problem of how do I get my life unstuck and figure out what was next.
Organizations, you, and me, might be very successful doing the same thing for a very long time and it works, until one day, it just doesn’t. We get stuck because we didn’t innovate or evolve, or look for new problems to solve.
I now run a career center for 3-thousand college undergrads and a speaking business. Every single day I take the lessons I learned from my own journey and think about problems to solve.
How can I reach more students? Are we working on the right skills? What will make the biggest difference in helping students and organizations achieve their goals?
I experiment. I try new things.
Some work. Some don’t. I try more new things. I look for new problems to solve.
Sometimes, I look for inspiration from people in other disciplines, people like Satell, or workplace innovators like CEO Nick Gianoulis with the Fun Department in Wilmington, Delaware. Innovators often find their solutions outside the normal places.
The point is, standing still, doesn’t work and the most successful people and organizations know that.
I certainly know that from my own life and from many of you who’ve generously shared your life experiences with me.
This week, I’m going ask my students a different question: “What problem do you want to solve?”
I have a feeling it will elicit a different answer.
It’s a good question for all of us, because the fact is, we all need to be innovators in our own lives.