Top-Shelf Tip No. 116:

"To succeed in the business of the future, we have to become the very people we're trying to reach."

Brian Solis

Iteration Vs. Innovation: Your Choice

I recently had a conversation with a stranger on the subject of self-driving cars. She said she would absolutely not try a self-driving car because they weren't tested properly and there was no need for them. And, she said she would never consider owning one. This woman was definitely not in favor of this kind of change or innovation. What side of innovation are you on?

In a recent article, digital analyst, speaker and author Brian Solis tackled the topic of innovation and our personal roles in making change happen. Solis says we don't have to be a Mark Zuckerberg to be innovators. In fact, he believes that real innovation is the responsibility of each of us individually, not of large corporations in Silicon Valley. We'll explain more in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

What's the future of business, industries, jobs, markets and technology? Solis says it's up to you. He says that the future is inevitable, and it is disruptive. We either choose to see it for its possibilities and the role we play in defining it or we let it happen to us and we go from there. How do colleagues and employees best manage change? How do we inspire people to learn and adopt new behaviors?

Solis says that transformation is personal. It starts with understanding that we must learn what's new and unlearn what's obsolete in order to see and do things differently. Otherwise, we learn parts of what's new and apply it to our legacy experience and expertise and at best, we work toward iteration.

What's the difference between iteration and innovation? Said simply, iteration is doing the same things, better. Innovation, on the other hand, is doing new things that create new value. Corporations, as a whole, do a great job at iteration, but are challenged when it comes to innovation. Solis says there should be a balance between iteration and innovation-that balance is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.

Innovation starts with understanding that change is not something that happens overnight or with the flip of a switch. We can't just become innovative on the spot. It's an intentional reaction to a current state as a means of improving something over time. Disruption is the effect of innovation or a series of innovations that play out in a butterfly effect, starting small, but trending, gaining momentum and transforming markets as it spreads.

Unfortunately, with many of today's organizations, when disruption comes, they tend to operate by their legacy perspectives, processes, policies and technologies, which are becoming increasingly outdated. They are not keeping up with people and technology as they evolve, and they are not in a position to effectively respond in their current state.

You can see this clearly in the digital world. Today, digital transformation, innovation, customer and employee experience all require updated and upgraded mindsets and perspectives. Customer and employee preferences, expectations and standards for excellence no longer align with legacy models and services. Companies tend to benchmark against their competitors and their industries as a whole, completely bypassing human cues that can guide us on a more relevant path to change and innovation.

Solis says that one example of this is in how today's consumers make decisions. Mobile apps and services are reprogramming the consumer mindset. The apps and on-demand services we have access to now are teaching us that we can have what we want, when we want it. With each voice command or swipe, our centers of reference move further away from where they were yesterday.

Unfortunately, many businesses don't acknowledge this mindset. They are just concerned about having a mobile app because their competitor does. The gap between how people and markets evolve and how slowly organizations react has only widened.

The important message here is we don't need to wait for big corporations to save the day when it comes to digital transformation and innovation. Each of us plays an important individual role in leading innovation and transformation. Each of us can innovate and transform, even in the smallest of settings or ways.

Today's innovators are portrayed as larger than life by media and society. Everyone points to their achievements, and also their periodical failures, a la Elon Musk, as testament to why it's both risky, but also awesome, to change the world. However, innovation isn't just for the elite, it's open to everyone with ideas, those who feel suffocated by mediocrity, anyone who is tired of not being heard, as well as those who believe things can be better or different.

True innovation begins with perspective and action, the ability to see what others cannot and do what others will not. Innovation is a mindset that ultimately becomes a way of life and work.

This is why you are a change agent. Start by understanding what's at the heart of change in today's society. What is the technology, behaviors and aspirations that are driving change? What conscious choices and the actions do we take in our personal lives to support innovation? What's our individual responsibility to bring about innovation?

As Solis says, "If you're waiting for someone to tell you what to do, you're on the wrong side of innovation and disruption."

Source: Brian Solis is a digital analyst, speaker and author. He is a principal analyst studying disruptive technology and its impact on business at Altimeter Group, a research firm acquired by global brand management consultancy Prophet in 2015.

Compiled by: Cassandra Johnson

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