Is Innovation Dead?

Innovation” has become a flat buzz-word in business. I think we may have finally beat it into unremitting grayness, which is unfortunate. If ever we have been in need of creative and unusual solutions to problems, it is this moment in which we find ourselves. Even the concept of “disruptive innovation” has become something of a totem that has lost meaning.

I have been in discussions of how some organizations choose to approach this kind of process. Some pat themselves on the back if they can manage to agree on changing the color of the cloth covering the cubicles, and others destroy productivity and morale by nuking the team, process and business plan almost monthly. Certainly, what works for one may not work for another, but taking well-written best practices and lessons learned from an book or article (or motivational speaker…) and then rounding your team into a room and delivering it as this quarter’s way out of a business problem without due research and context probably won’t work.

I wrote awhile back about uncovering the creativity in a team or teammate. The context in that post was of a colleague who had settled into her role a bit too comfortably and was searching for a way to re-energize and refocus her considerable abilities into either a new role or a revitalized existing one. That post focused on a couple of things you might do to break out of the rut, especially if you are unable to move from your current position in a team.

Solopreneurs are in a different kind of space. Already confronted with a constantly shifting set of activities and priorities, it may not seem like settling into a rut is a problem. This is an incorrect assumption. My experience is that we seek some kind of touchstone in our day. It might be the order in which you do mundane tasks (mail first, then writing, then calls….). It might be the way you set up the music you listen to when you work (or the patterns of silence you rely upon, depending on your preference…). It might be when you eat lunch and with whom. There are any number of ways our minds work to find and establish patterns. Some are quite subtle and therefore invisible to our consciousness.

I feel that solopreneurs, who are having to adapt constantly, may actually find themselves sacrificing some creativity and innovation in their offerings, productivity and other parts of their lives. Since they are surrounded by “the churn“, they may feel that innovation is (of course…) central to what they do, so they don’t step back and assess it a bit more objectively. It’s not easy.

I enlisted the help of a business and life coach to allow for a different set of eyes to observe my patterns and challenges. She has been of tremendous assistance over the past few months. I have found more balance in my projects, tools to help me prioritize business and personal stress, and a methodology to to help me “get over” the kinds of blocks that keep me from getting things done. This has been innovative for me, and has given me some tools with which I may step back from my business and see things differently.

Innovation is not dead, but it may hide. Now I have some new ways to look for it, realizing it may not look like what I thought it would. That’s OK… ought be a surprise!

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