To innovate is to be creative. Innovators are natural open thinkers. The kind of people who make connections - exploring the consequences of the consequences.
We revel in the navigation of the ambiguous. We are comfortable - almost certain - that the shortest route is rarely the fastest. We think organically, not in straight lines.
We reframe, looking at problems from new angles, we synthesise adjacent scenarios, we turn things on their head and shake them. We go off on tangents, journeys of discovery. Sometimes we have to retrace our steps. Sometimes we make huge leaps.
Sometimes you will wonder where we are going. Sometimes you will struggle to keep up.
We thrive in complex and chaotic times - where cause and effect is often unclear.
We have the mindsets and approaches to discover and support emergent and novel practice. This is essential now that the 'best' and 'good practice' of what we thought we knew, no longer helps.
The industrial mindset struggles with this. It wants clarity and certainty. It wants expertise - where there can be none (how can you be expert in the new?).
Design Thinking provides something of an interface between the innovator and the industrialist. It offers the tools to open up the more convergent thinkers, while providing the frameworks to constrain the most butterfly of brains toward the task at hand.
Lean Start-up brings an even harder focus on value and on following the insight - with its introduction of Pivot.
And Agile (at least in its approach to small pieces of work in small teams in rapid sprints of work) offers a way of working beyond the prototype that maintains the focus on insight and end-user value.
I have applied all of the above in varying combinations to product and service design. I have applied them to strategy, too. For years.
The problem for some organisations needing to make their leap right now is that there are still gatekeepers who retain the industrial mindset. It's the mindset that seeks efficiency first. They want the one-pager, the certainty of the business plan, the easy of A follows B. It is how they are used to consuming information. Documents not conversations. Boxes to tick.
And that's a problem - because that's not how the world works and it makes them less able to recognise or trust in the value of the organic, systems thinking, lateral excursions of just the people they need.
The obvious and easy world is gone. It's hard to acknowledge and deal with that change. Humans like easy. Change, learning new things, doing different things - all take much more brain energy and effort. It's much harder to explore than to travel the same route you have a thousand times before.
But Covid19 gave us a Context Shock revealing this trend away from the obvious and easy towards complexity and challenge.This trend - and its inherent demand for the innovation mindset - has been accelerating since the dawn of digital.
It's time to encourage and welcome the explorers.
Start with yourself.