It is time to Evolve or Dissolve
Change is inevitable, before there were only two certainties in life, namely death and taxes. Now the ever changing and evolving world we live in, where the rate of change is accelerating daily, has seen a third certainty appear, namely “CHANGE”. This leaves you with two choices, bury your head in the sand and hope change won’t affect you or open your eyes and discover ways to use change to your advantage, by innovating and discovering new ways of doing things.
Innovation is no longer a luxury – It is a Necessity
In the past the companies, which were not creative or innovative, could chug along and still make a good living. Yes of course, businesses, like horse carriage manufacturers, who did not adapt, innovate and create new products, have over the years disappeared, but the business cycle was so long back then, even companies, who did not see change very quickly, took a really long time to close their doors.
In the world we now inhabit, the business cycle is estimated to be around 11 months and it is getting shorter and shorter every day, so if you have not innovated and found new more creative ways of servicing your markets, over the past 11 months, it is possible and very probable that you may be doing things wrong.
Everything around you is Changing – Are you
The markets you service may have changed, customers’ expectations and needs may have evolved and your product may have even become obsolete, due to new products or services, which have appeared on the market, over the past few months. The secret to not only survive, but to thrive is to constantly survey everything going on around you. Ignorance is most certainly not bliss. Ignorance is failure, regret and could even cause your business to suffer huge losses.
Action Idea: Schedule time every week to survey your world. Look around with open eyes and try to discover all the changes going on around you. I schedule time every Friday afternoon at 17H00, to survey my world. I do this by going through a checklist of questions, described below. I ensure that I explore, discover and answer every question on my list. This helps me to stay awake and aware of any changes, which may negatively affect me or which may offer me new opportunities.
The Checklist I use for Innovation:
• What is changed in my industry?
• What has changed in the markets I service?
• Are there any new opportunities, which have opened up for my products or services?
• What has changed from a legislative perspective?
• What changes are there in my community?
• What changes are there in my Country?
• What changes are there around the world?
• What new challenges have presented themselves?
• What new personalities are influencing the world?
• What new tools, techniques and technologies have come to light?
• How can I use any or all of these changes to my advantage?
When you schedule time to explore your world every week and you are an acute observer and astute evaluator, you no longer live in a bubble of ignorance. You have open eyes and will see change and be able to adapt to it. This will equip you with the foundation you need, to start to innovate and take advantage of change, before it is too late. Be awake, alert and observe the subtle changes going on around you, see the message being sent out all the time and you will be in a far better place to anticipate and utilise change, rather than be left to react to it, after it is too late.
If you are to thrive and not just survive, then Innovation must become a way of life, something you are, not something you do. Once you learn to live this way, you will be astounded at how creative and innovative you become. Dreaming up new ideas and better ways of doing things, will just be the norm and the way you do things.

Unlocking the Creativity in your Team
Up until the age of two, over 80 % of children test out as creative. Then the pressure of our schools system and the demands placed on our children to conform to societies norms, changes us. By the age of ten, the number of creative people has dropped to only 2 % and this continues for the rest of our lives. What happened to all those creative children? They are still there; they have just turned the volume down on their creative side.

Learn to Turn the Volume up, once again
Unlocking your creative juices, requires you to re-develop those neural pathways, which were lost as a child. It took many years to lose your creative neural pathways, so don’t expect them to reappear overnight. Have patience and follow the few recommendations I have made below:
• When you are driving your car, use the seek button on your radio to search for the next available channel. Whatever comes up, force yourself to listen to it for the rest of the day. This pulls you out of you comfort zone and forces you to listen to music you are unfamiliar with. Your brain hears this and goes, wow I have not heard this before, I better form a few new neural pathways to help me interpret this, should I hear it in the future. New neural pathways, which will help you to awaken those slumbering creative neural pathways, which have been asleep since your early childhood.
• When ordering in a restaurant, order something unusual, which will challenge your taste buds. Again this new sensation will, cause you to develop new creative neural pathways.
• Try to engage in as many new activities as possible, write with your other hand, eat with your knife and fork in the other hand, dance, walk backwards, balance on one leg etc. The more things you can change the greater will be your ability to re-awaken that slumbering creative person hidden within you.
• Do different things. My wife and I have a saying “When last did you do something for the first time?” We try new things all the time, from ballroom dancing to bungy jumping, to traveling to new and interesting places all the time. Again this will help you to re-awaken and utilise your creative self.

Innovation happens Daily
For innovation to work within any organisation, the leadership team must create a culture of innovation within the business. Innovation is not something you do occasionally, when you want to create something new. It is an on-going commitment within the organisation, which must happen daily and be an ingrained part of the culture of the business. The constant awareness amongst all stakeholders within the business, where everyone is responsible to observe and see change or opportunity, will see far better results, than would be the case if there were only a few people within the organisation tasked with innovating. The more eyes there are observing, the greater the chance of identifying opportunity or threats.

Action Idea: Organisations, who want to thrive and use innovation as a tool for growth and expansion, must hold monthly innovation meetings. These are meetings, where new innovative ideas are tabled and changes in the market are explored, to try to uncover new opportunities or threats. These meetings need to record all the ideas and brainstorm any changes and opportunities. A separate innovation forum, must be convened later to explore and evaluate all the ideas. My experience has shown that if you try to evaluate ideas at the first meeting, you spoil the flow and reduce the effectiveness of uncovering really great and innovative ideas.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew is one of the most sought after Motivational Speakers and Sales Training experts in South Africa. You can trust him to deliver a motivational message that will re-energise your team and help them to ignite the fire of inspiration in their bellies once again. Should you want to inspire or re-energise your team, visit my website for details on one of the best Motivational Speakers around.