That peaceful Sunday morning, I was reading a book when my son came rushing. I could sense a hint of worry in his voice as he said, "Dadda...The laptop shut down again!"
I knew about the troubles this laptop was giving for the past several days. So it wasn't breaking news to me. We went inside to check it.
Finally, it dawned on me as to why we are repeatedly facing that peculiar problem. I also thought that it might be a good idea to teach my son another useful life skill.
So I tasked him to fix it, and this is what happened next.
It just takes one idea to solve a big problem. But being creative and coming up with new or different ideas is relatively easy, especially if we compare that against being innovative and bringing ideas to life. Because innovation needs a lot more than just a bunch of ideas, only having ideas without doing anything with them is a total waste. You have to implement them. At least test them.
Being innovative means bringing ideas to life, scaling them up so more people can benefit. It also means whatever you want to create must be useful, not just to one, two, or a few, but to many people. You must be able to produce or implement it at scale. And that needs a few additional steps.
The idea must begin with a problem to solve, fix, or even better, to transform. And coming up with better ideas doesn't happen in silos. You need deeper insights. You need curiosity to look at things around you.
But developing insights is not easy, particularly when you don't know much about the industry, that domain, or the process where problems occur. So as a first step, you need genuine curiosity and empathy to identify what is actually required.
Step 1: Be curious, be empathetic, and find out the root cause of the problem.
Once you have found the problem, you can think about various ways to solve it. And if you want to do that effectively, you need to generate many ideas. This is the second step in the innovation process. The idea generation becomes easier if you know why that problem exists in the first place. Because whenever you fix the root cause, problems disappear. Eliminating the root cause is the best way to solve any problem.
Step 2: Generate as many ideas as possible before judging them.
Now here is a catch, and it is this. To produce meaningful and good ideas, you need creativity, but you also need experience. Without enough experience, it isn't easy to come up with enough good ideas. But there is an antidote. In fact, there is more than one.
The first one is to collaborate with other experts and combine their domain knowledge with your creativity. When time is of the essence, this is the best way to move forward. The second antidote is experimentation. It is not just trial and error. It's an art. And it is science. Experimentation teaches you so many things in a short period that otherwise take several years to learn.
Not all ideas are equally good. Some are pointless. Some ideas may not be feasible or viable. Sometimes, the timing isn't right.
So, the third step is to apply critical thinking and analyze all your ideas for their usefulness. Analyzing those ideas will highlight the most suitable one that will make more sense for you to develop further.
Step 3: Apply critical thinking. Analyze your ideas for their usefulness, feasibility, and viability.
Picking one idea is just the beginning. You need to develop it further to implement it at scale. So, you go to the fourth step, validation. It is unlikely that you will validate your idea all by yourself.
In most cases, you will need help. You will have to collaborate with multiple people and experts to ensure your idea improves and becomes more robust.
Step 4: Validate your selected idea and develop it further for all practical purposes.
Doing this ensures that the idea becomes more suitable for implementation and scaling.
Now comes the final step, communication. No matter how good your idea or the solution is, you need to sell it. Communication is not just about selling. It is also about articulating your idea. How and why you developed it, and how your solution fits in your customers' lives. This way, you can make sure that more people can understand it and benefit from it. After all, what's the point of innovation if others can't understand it, right?
Step 5: Communicate your work. Articulate the problem, its root cause, and how your developed idea solves it.
And by the way, if your laptop is heating up or you're looking out for a laptop stand, try this simple, DIY laptop stand. It costs almost nothing. All you need is cardboard, pencil, scale, paper-knife, and some tape or glue.
If you want to get a little bit artistic, then you can also decorate it. If you would like to give it a try, I have a short pdf guide for you. Click here to download.
It's nice, simple, cheap, and a good solution. It can also be a good craft project for kids. Or an excellent father-son bonding exercise. Whichever, you look at it.
As you can see, innovation requires more than just a bunch of ideas. It needs discipline, and it needs a process to follow. Now go ahead, find some problems to solve, generate some ideas and implement them. Make your ideas a reality!
Innovation requires more than just a bunch of ideas. It needs discipline. It needs a process to follow!