Experience is a business essential but if used as an excuse to kill innovation, it will end up killing the company. Here is how the board room conversation in a midmarket company typically flows. The CEO want to drive revenue in the next two quarters in order to meet the company’s annual revenue targets. The head of marketing presents a warmed over version of the last years outbound marketing plan. The head of sales presents a channel program that last year never really got off the ground and said it just needed a bit more energy to succeed. Product development talks about add-ons and professional services presents their new finder-minder-grinder model.
None of these by themselves are terrible ideas, although they are perilously close. But they represent a way of thinking that causes a company to get stuck in a pattern of focusing entirely on operational efficiency. Operational efficiency is important, but not sufficient.
Creativity and innovation rarely show up on valuation reports, but they are key ingredients to building long term business value. Every company needs to stretch and that does not mean stretch sales goals. It means innovation and creative thinking.
Unfortunately, not all of us are very good at this. John Clease, the famous British comedian suggests we create atime space oasis to begin the creative process. Lock yourself away for a period of time (CrackBerry addicts should start slowly). Do your best to avoid the trivial, mundane, yet seemingly urgent items on your todo list. Pick one challenge and simply think about it. Then, and this is critical, throw away your first idea and keep thinking. Clease guarantees us we’ll come up with more creative solutions after we’ve trashed the first.
When I have the discipline to follow Clease’s advice, I’m at my best.
So sometime during the next week, take 20 minutes of quiet time and follow the links of some very creative people.
I guarantee you’ll begin to look at your business challenges in a different light.
Check out Steve Shapiro’s Innovation Poker.
Read Guy Kawasaki’s blog and think about how you can change your corner of the world.
Subscribe to the ChangeThis Manifesto and be amazed by the innovative writing.
Wonder around Alltop (Innovation) and find inspiration.
Buy any Seth Godin book for your vacation reading.
Put David Meerman Scott in your corner and change your approach to marketing on the web.
Remember, its what you don’t know that can kill your business.