I have had the very good fortune to be involved in some highly innovative projects, breaking paradigms and implementing technologies and concepts never before seen in the region. Exciting, attractive stuff that makes headlines. In the process of sharing the successes of these projects with others and highlighting the innovative decisions which were made and led in large part to our successes, I have found myself back in the weeds, considering the smallest choices which were made and led to the grand innovations. Searching for the next little idea to contribute to incremental change and ultimately a transformation.
That is where I wanted to focus your attention for today; not always reading blogs online regarding the most nationally exceptional, leading edge industry innovations, but rather, contemplating the most simple and most near, next decisions on your project…and how your team can find incremental innovations and value in that singular next step. The big picture isn’t for everyone. It can be daunting, annoyingly over-simplified, and excessively dramatic toward the negative or the positive. Such extremes often can lead project managers and organizations as a whole to steer clear of innovation base in large part on the extrapolation of the inherent possibility of failures that innovation includes. As an antidote to that anxiety and a suggestion on how to stimulate innovation at the smallest levels within your project team, ask them at your next meeting to propose three alternative approaches or solutions to their current task. The smaller the task the better and the less dramatic an alternative approach the better. Simply asking them to take that baby step toward the outer edge of the box will get everyone more comfortable in that region. The next step may just be to the outside of the box and that is how you begin to create a culture of innovation!
While the big, sexy projects are fun, they all started with nano-steps and some frustrated innovators looking for incremental improvement. Never lose sight of the true origins of your success and when you are looking for the next big thing, turn your hat around and look for the next little thing first!