Innovation has become such a buzz word over the last decade that the even put it into the name of a government department. There are even degree courses in innovation.

I looked up the word and what I found was that innovation is a posh word for modernisation, invention, improvement and originality. In simple terms it is about doing things a little better, not reinventing the wheel but just being smart about things. Innovating is about looking at the way you do certain things and asking a simple question. Why do we do this in this particular way? Is there a better way? A faster way? Last month I talked about making a change and in most businesses we get used to doing things a particular way and we go on doing it that way until someone asks why? Why shouldn’t that someone be you? If not you, find a curious 12 year old. They have a talent for asking awkward why questions.

We all have dozens of ideas every day but they flow past us, we miss them because we don’t capture them in a notebook.  If you cant write it down your phone has a voice recorder use that. Try it for one day and see what innovative ideas you get.

The real problem though is that we are innately resistant to change; even when it is for the better.  Innovation is change for the better. It doesn’t have to be huge to make a difference. Change makes us look at things with new eyes. It revives our interest and re-engages our brain and stops us running on autopilot. It’s like a page refresh!

Once we stop running on auto pilot we are fully awake. Read Anthony de Mello’s book Awareness. He suggests we go through life asleep or on autopilot at least half of our lives. This is what Innovation is about. Waking up, thinking about why we do what we do and becoming a little bit dissatisfied;  because it, or life or something could be a bit better and then, doing something about it.

Often that level of dissatisfaction is the lever we need to innovate. It was probably why I went into business in the first place. I thought the processes used by my last employer were ridiculously cumbersome. I knew I could do it better myself. Entrepreneurs are by our nature both idea driven and very innovative.

What drives innovation? In my opinion boredom.

Change is good. I will repeat that Change is good. It keeps us learning and it keeps us interested. If we are interested it keeps the creative juices flowing. This leads me back to the title of the piece, at least the interest part.

Only people who are interested innovate. People just going through the motions don’t do anything new because their brains are switched off. Here is an idea. Your competition might be so comfortable in their market dominant position that they haven’t innovated for a long time. Now you come along with a market disrupting innovation you can become the market leader. They (or you if you are not growing and changing) lose out because of lack of interest.

If you have that market disrupting idea you should test it. If it works you have 2 choices. Implement and disrupt OR it could be your exit strategy from the business, allowing you to sell out to a big multinational and live on the interest you can earn on the money. – Different kind of interest.

All of this requires one thing. Even the idea of early retirement and living off the interest generated by your brilliant disruptive idea can’t happen without it. ACTION. Lots of people have lots of ideas but never start a business.  The true difference between ideas and innovation is action. The result of action is change and that leads to interesting times. I hope your interest from your innovation is measured in percentages.

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