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Business's biggest obstacle to much needed innovation

What is innovation?

Innovation is the implementation of new ideas. So, for innovation to exist, you must have ideas – and good ones, frankly. Flick back to the first paragraph – where is the room for ideas in the morass of doing? Where is the room for ideas that are good ones?

Where businesses today struggle is in their ability to think. Doing is no problem; even if it’s the wrong sort of doing, action looks like a good idea. Walk past a leader’s office, and they’re looking out of the window or have gone for a walk vis a vis of nothing, and you wonder why they are not available to immediately come to the boardroom, and you might even be a bit judge-y about that.

Even if a leader knows taking time out to think is a good idea, it can be intimidating. We all know how to do stuff, but do we know how to think stuff? The evidence would suggest we avoid it.

What do we mean by thinking?

Making time for ideas and different perspectives to come. It’s different things for different people –it comes down to the best set-up for the way you want to think best – here is what it is for me:

  • If I see a blocked-out morning for ‘thinking’ frankly, I panic and start to fill it with ‘plans’. If I see a question in my schedule and some time to think about it, that’s different.

  • I like business friends coming over for a thinking day, we’ll share what’s going on for us, what we want to make happen and hear each other thinking – whilst we walk up a hill. There’s no agenda, and it’s a serious intention for the day.

  • Think in different places, environments stimulate different thoughts.

  • Witnessed thinking, the process of doing it with another person, is very useful.

  • Create thinking spaces, like a Drum, for fresh thoughts and ideas to unfold.

Whilst businesses struggle to reward the thinking process, it’s not something they are used to; they love ideas. They need to develop a thinking, reflective, open environment. The businesses that go on without thinking, and everyone thinking, whatever their level, will struggle to innovate. They have immense resources in their people and organisations, all the ideas will be there. They just need to be brave enough to make the space for them (and reward those who are doing it).

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