Over the past several months we had been on a voyage. In many ways, trying to lay some structure around “incubating innovation”. Talking and working with people from diverse backgrounds, smiling at the oddities around life / work, relishing at the edges of ones’ childhood etiquettes / memories, basking at the possibilities of applying common sense “imagination” to business problems, trying to aspire a new enthusiasm around “start-up thinking” and many more. Moving adrift from “normalcy”, my world suddenly changed inside out. There was a subtle sense of myself, subdued under the act of getting things done everyday. Being busy was an act of staying on course. Thinking about “start-up” culture on most part is a revelation by itself. It is like a kid wearing new clothes on an auspicious occasion! Its about new ideas, new people, new processes and everything new.. companies, culture, attitude, enjoyment, fulfilment… A total transformation in all aspects! So how do we embrace the excitement and remain savvy? From employees to employers, there are a few re-alignments to be made.
1) Fail fast, fail safe, wake up soon — its OK to make a mistake
One of the most popular ideals on innovation is to fail fast & be safe as much as possible. The key success vibe is also to get up soon from the mud, clean up and run again. The realisation during the process is manifold. Did we set our sail in the right direction? Where did we go wrong? What were the triggers? Did we follow a mirage? Where did we slip? When did we fail? Do we have a metrics to evaluate failure? Was there any early indicators / intuitions? Did we miss any? Did we consider alternative paths? What could have been done differently to lessen the impact? What are the lessons learned? How can the experience enrich our knowledge base?
At Innovation Incubator, we are focused on getting our feet wet. Not just once, but all the time!! Rolling up the sleeves and doing the hard job is pretty exciting. It makes us feel youthful, identify challenges, explore new opportunities, re-focus on changing priorities, manage uncertainties and be at the forefront of business & technology.
2) Promote lateral thinking
The power to observe is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur should possess. Team members should watch, research, learn & react to situations as their product idea evolve. I have had experiences where people search for solutions that they had originally missed en-route to solving the initial problem. Moving fast with blinkers might be one way to focus, but more often than not, could lead to missed opportunities, longer “fail-cycles”, potential land-mines or even absolute nightmares. Trading off between the desire to finish first vs the intention to fail fast should be based on a rationale that embraces lateral thinking, holistic understanding of the solution & the ability to forecast pitfalls early on.
Having people with the right mix of radical, aggressive, empathetic, perseverant and pragmatic traits make Innovation Incubator the ideal hub to experiment, fail fast and succeed in your quest towards product development.
3) Planned, Open conversations
Getting into the thinking / creative mode can get inconsistent without a planned and controlled approach. Not all brainstorming sessions would yield the next big idea. At times creativity can dry out and on other occasions, thoughts can get overwhelming. Regardless every session should be documented and archived to analyse the trail. Perhaps on a second read, an interesting idea might spill out. Or on the other extreme, several of them might become irrelevant. An open discussion will be possible only with team members having a unique & balanced chemistry. The open-ness to ask the most foolish questions or to be critically adept to bash a seemingly promising seed thought should be encouraged. Taking criticisms and yet coming up with a convincing argument will more often test the longevity of an idea.
Our team has a mix of youthfulness, diversity, enthusiasm and raw vigor that lets us dissect multiple ideas from a wide range of domains and still remain sane for the next one!!
4) Happiness vs productivity & innovation
Martin Seligman’s 2011 book, “Flourish” narrates an enlightening view (PERMA) on ways to promote “well-being”. Nurturing / highlighting Positive emotions, Engagement with thoughts / ideas / projects / creative thinking, positiveRelationship building (with people & the environment), figuring out the Meaning (how are we solving a crucial business problem, what is the social impact?) and rewarding Accomplishments / Achievements are the key pedestals for leading a contented, happy life. Once the team members are consistently motivated, challenged & free to voice opinions, miraculous & disruptive ideas emerge from within.
Being selfless / empathetic, patting on each other on accomplishments, supporting collective thoughts / wisdom, persistent self / team motivation and open communication are the traits that we believe work best in our team.