Innovation - Why It's (Initially) More About Thinking Than Doing

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Author Image - Dan Step

By Dan Step

Dan is a Business Development Representative working with and alongside SME'S, schools and multi national corporations. Dan also works as a public speaker to help schools and charities find funding that is available at corporate and conference events.

I'm a huge fan of the term 'No Zero Days'.  Adopted from my colleague Tony Short, it essentially means you shouldn't waste time.  Don't procrastinate.  If something needs doing, do it.  'Soon' and 'tomorrow' are both phrases we all use, but once they form part of your daily vocabulary, the ability to achieve No Zero Days becomes increasingly difficult.

As such, I hate it when things just move along slowly.  I love to see progression and development (which is probably behind my love of to do lists - there's something satisfying about continually being able to tick things off).  I like to have an idea and turn it into a Minimum Viable Product as quickly as I can.  In my experience, it's much more beneficial to get something live and in front of an audience than it is to tweak something expecting perfection.  The former could be a six week process, the latter several years.

Yet when it comes to innovation, and working on creative projects, there's a lot to be said for taking some time out to think.  It can be tempting to jump straight in - very tempting, in fact - and as much as I normally encourage such activity, innovation asks for a different approach.

Consideration is key

Take a scenario where you're considering using a new social channel for audience engagement.  Many retailers are confidently using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but with there a need to continually move forward, adopting new technologies and networks is needed - and Snapchat is often one that's looked at first.

Recently valued at $16 billion dollars and with a reported user base of 100 million, it can seem clear that Snapchat is an obvious choice to begin utilising.  Just jump in and enjoy the success, right? Not quite.

Snapchat-LogoAlthough there's no doubt Snapchat can be a great platform to engage with your audience on and 100 million users is a very respectable amount, it may not necessarily be the right platform for you.

For instance, the most recent statistics suggest that 71% of the platform's users are under 25 years old, and approximately 70% are female.

Sound like your target audience?  Perfect.  Take a look at it more.  But if it doesn't, although it doesn't mean you shouldn't ignore the network completely, you do need to consider any investment in it in greater depth.

You need to look at whether the investment you make will bring the return you need, want or expect.  If you're main positive ROI indicator would be to simply look at testing the waters in a creative way on a new platform, or to have the first real presence in your industry on the network, embracing and utilising Snapchat could offer that up perfectly.

If you're looking for a clear path to conversion, however, should your primary demographic not fall within that mentioned above, it may not be the best channel to utilise.  And even if it does, you need to consider how you would track conversions from the network in a way that allows you to be confident the investment is providing a positive return.

As you can hopefully see, the whole process is about thinking.  It's about understanding what you want to gain and what you want - or are able - to put in.  And this isn't just restricted to investment in a social media channel either.

Always remember the end goal

Within Leighton, we have been working on a client project where their initial idea was to invest in an already-existing piece of software to solve their problem.  They knew that although cost-heavy, it would produce the results they needed.

However, through discussions - and much collaborative thinking both internally and with the client - we were able to provide a bespoke solution that not only achieved their initial requirements, but provides additional information, all at a considerably lower cost than the 'pre-packaged' solutions, ultimately ensuring an even greater return on the client's investment.

-We cannot solve our problems with theAnd this all came about through thinking.  It was about understanding what was needed and not simply opting for the most obvious choice. Doing so always appears to be the easiest option, but it's not normally the case, or the most beneficial way to move forward in general.

Albert Einstein famously said "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them" and that still rings as clear today as it did then.  Innovation solves problems.  It provides solutions and offers answers.

But its only possible to achieve this when you're thinking smarter.  Our minds are a thing of wonder; a physical resource that has so much potential it's unfathomable.

By our very nature as humans, we're always striving to grow and improve - and as much of an advocate as I am for jumping in at the deep end, when it comes to innovation, a little thinking can go a long way.