We have a philosophy here at OMNIA – that innovation is a daily process – not just something that happens in a designated room, or during a specially arranged away day, or even only between certain people. The desire to innovate drives every single one of us – myself included – to try and find new answers to our clients’ needs. This journey of innovation is the bit of the job that gets me out of bed every morning – sometimes even more so than any ultimate solution we come up with. I love the creative process of innovating, and I could never have achieved as much as I have in my career without pushing myself to think differently. So how do I go about making sure that I’m always a part of that process of daily innovation?
Practice makes perfect
People often make the mistake of thinking some people are just naturally innovative. But I firmly believe that being a great innovator is a skill, not simply a natural talent – which means it can be strengthened through practice. So open your mind to new ways of thinking everyday, challenge yourself and those around you, and exercise that creative muscle. Your business will be fitter for it.
Get a great team around you
I have a truly inspiring group of people here – but they’re not all the same. I have talkers, I have quiet thinkers, I have fiery souls and I have collaborators – but they all have a part to play. No successful innovator can do it alone – so surround yourself with the best – people who can challenge you and make you think in new ways – and bring them together. Make sure they bump into each other accidently every day, and get them to spark – this could start the fire that transforms your business.
Invest in things that interest you – but also be prepared to learn something new
I’ve spoken before about how I like to do business with people, not companies – and this is reflected in the kinds of projects I’ve invested in over the years. But this way of working doesn’t mean that I’m only interested in getting involved in businesses I know nothing/something?? about. In fact, this approach has actually led me down some pretty interesting paths over the years – I’ve got to talk to fascinating people, decided I want to work with them, and only later found out more about the industries they’re involved in. It means I’ve often found myself outside my comfort zone – something that I think is key to being able to innovate. It’s allowed me to bring a fresh perspective to people’s problems – so always try and push yourself into new areas.
Think small, think big, but don’t ignore the middle way too
I know everyone thinks of Apple whenever anyone mentions innovation. And of course it’s all with good reason – they’ve come up with some pretty game-changing ideas over the years. I remember when someone first told me that the iPhone would replace my iPod and my phone, and I thought it was the most pointless thing I’d ever heard. Little did I know.
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, you have those tiny, incremental innovations – I’m thinking here of small innovations of the kind that Team Sky made to their bikes and to the lifestyles of their riders in order to win.
But I’ve also found that there are a lot of changes you can make in the middle ground that are a bit bigger than those ‘marginal gains’ you can make, but at the same time they’re not game changers. Just be careful not to dismiss these kinds of ideas because they don’t fit neatly into your plans.
Go with your ideas – even the crazy ones
I’m sure that most of the world’s greatest innovations wouldn’t have happened if people had just kept their mouths shut. You know that feeling in a meeting, when you’ve got a great idea, but you suddenly lose all faith in it and decide not to say anything? I hate to think of that happening in any of my businesses – the thought of all of that lost potential, those ideas that could have transformed things dramatically just going up in smoke – it goes against everything I believe business is about. So, I always try to listen to others, to give them room to breathe – and to make sure that my businesses will always be the fertile ground their ideas need to flourish – however crazy they may seem at first glance.
So, there’s just a quick taster of how I’ve made innovation a central part of my daily life – how could you do the same in your business?