Think Innovation Isn't Part of Your Day Job? Here's Why It Should Be.
Innovation is often just seen as the job of those in technology, new product development or marketing. For everyone else, the message is, just focus on your day job. But, by not seeing innovation as part of your role, you are missing out on some big opportunities. Here are four questions to ask yourself that will shed light on whether innovation needs to be part of your day job.
Do you have customers?
If you answered yes, then innovation definitely matters. Your customers might be external to the company (i.e. those paying to use your product or service) or they might be internal (i.e. fellow staff members). Customers are central to innovation. The best workers put the customer at the heart of everything they do. They interrogate customers for problems and frustrations they have and set about solving those frustrations through new products, services and processes.
So, if you have customers, and if your job involves making their lives better, then innovation needs to be part of your day job.
Can the way you or your team do things be improved?
Most of us have had a boss at some stage in our career who would respond to any new ideas with phrases like "We tried that last year, but it didn't work" or "That's not how we do things around here." Indeed, many bosses are anti-change. And if you happen to work in a job or an organization where everything is currently done perfectly, then perhaps you could possibly get away without innovating. At least for now.
But if you work in a role or company where things are not perfect, and where there is the opportunity to do things better, then innovation needs to be part of your day job.
Challenging the status quo and are constantly questioning why things are the way they are become critical behaviors. And by doing this, you will find better ways of doing things.
Do you want to robot-proof your job?
The BBC recently reported that 800 million workers globally will lose their jobs by 2030. The jobs that are most at threat? Those that are repetitive and rule-based. For example, machine workers and administrative workers are particularly vulnerable.
While robots are good at doing a lot of things, they haven't worked out how to solve problems creatively. If you are keen on protecting your job from the robots, work on building your creative problem-solving abilities and looking at opportunities in unique ways. Regularly flexing your innovation muscle and even undergoing some innovation training will help make you and your job robot-proof.
Does your company want to grow?
As the saying goes, if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. While this quote has been attributed to everyone ranging from Tony Robbins to Albert Einstein, it's the point that matters. Another gem often misattributed to Einstein (but still worth remembering): "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."
If your company has growth aspirations, it's not going to get there by doing the same thing and hoping for the best. Indeed, growth requires doing things differently. And this is at the heart of innovation. Innovation is about looking at things in different ways and trying things that have never been tried before.
So, the next time you are unsure as to whether innovation is part of your role, just think of the opportunities you are missing and the robots that are keen to take your job, and start innovating.