The Innovation Pipeline - Part 2 How Consumption Inspires Production.

Self learning is an important contributor to innovation (Part two). 
Mentions: Lifehacker, Mother Nature Network, Better Homes And Gardens, HBR

Roman has a small home garden. In this little patch of land he indulges in his hobby of gardening. Roman is a resourceful person. Instead of planting pretty sweet smelling flowers like normal people do, Roman prefers to grow his food here. This time he’s growing carrots, tomatoes, radishes, red bell peppers and spinach. For tips on how you too can grow your own vegetables click here, here & here.

The interesting bit about this story about Roman and his little garden is not about how resourceful he is or how easy it is to grow your own food (which everyone should do), but rather how Roman finds inspiration to grow new stuff in his little garden patch. The food Roman grows in his garden isn't enough to feed him three times a day, everyday. So Roman, like normal people, buys most of his food from outside. Probably from the nearest grocery store or closest farmers market. Roman prefers the farmers market because the vegetables are much fresher and healthier too. This is where Roman finds his inspiration.

This is where Roman tries out new vegetables. He buys what catches his eye and makes a meal out of it at home. If he likes what he bought, Roman will try to grow it in his vegetable patch. This way Roman tries and tests out new food and then grows what ever he consumes. Over time, Roman will have tried and tasted a number of vegetables and will have perfected a number of dinner menus according to his taste. The wider a variety of vegetables Roman consumes, the wider a variety of vegetables Roman is inspired to produce. This way, before long, Roman will reach a point where he is able to craft his perfect menu. Who knows may be he may even start his own garden shop or even a little health cafe someday soon. 

Your organization will have a number of departments and divisions tasked with key operations such as managing your human resources, creating and nurturing your market, developing your offering, support services and collection of payments. All of these operations are the pillars on which the profitability of your organization stands upon. Cracks in any of these operations will affect the whole of your organization and eat into your profits.

Just as much as you need to read before you can develop a knack for writing, you need to consume innovation before you can develop a knack for innovating. Innovation isn't a skill, it’s a discipline (Checkout Peter F Drucker’s take on innovation here). It takes years of patience, questioning why things are the way they are, an eye for detail and a heart that empathizes with the user. 

Because, to successfully innovate, you not only have to make something new, what you make has to work better than its predecessor. Anyone can come up with an idea, but not everyone can make an idea come to life. To be able to innovate requires a certain mindset. A frame of mind that sees the opportunity in every problem. And a determination to make it work even after repeated failures. Holla out to all the optimists and stubborn geniuses reading this!

Much like Roman and his little obsession for growing his own food, whatever little he can, your organization too will contain many others similar to Roman. It is important to identify this trait in your people and empower them to graze on related information and knowledge. It is then, that by aligning existing work practices with the objective of the said work practices and then applying new knowledge, that you are able to progress. Most times you will find that the existing work practices are actually a hindrance to achieving the objective and that new knowledge gained will help eliminate unnecessary tasks, thereby streamlining your process.

Other times you will find, new knowledge will bring in additions to the existing process which will then richen the overall objective. Either way, your organization needs to keep progressing. After all, innovation is progress. 

Checkout my previous piece (part one) on innovation

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