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Innovation resolutions for the New Year

Background
It is that time of the year, a fresh start and new resolutions.  As usual, I want to kick off this year with innovation resolutions.  I know not everyone is into New Year’s resolutions, but the good news is that you can even be creative with regards to resolutions, and I will share some tips on how to make it easier to stick to new resolutions.
Innovation resolutions
I am subscribed to a lot of innovation management blogs, websites and newsletters, so in January all the innovation gurus on these platforms share some innovation resolutions for the New Year.  I want to share some of the resolutions I picked up that makes sense to me, but first some other advice.
During the year-end break I always contemplate on how to improve myself and how to establish new positive habits.  No question that it is difficult to change one’s routines and behaviours, but it is possible.  So, with regards to changing one’s habits, I found the following advice very useful and since innovation is essentially about change, this advice can be exploited for your innovation habits as well.  It’s simple, just three things to remember.  Firstly, start small.  A tiny habit is easier to stick to.  For example, do you resolve to exercise more often this year? Start with just a short walk around the neighbourhood – something so quick that there’s no excuse not to do it. Once a habit begins to feel natural, increase the amount of time or effort you spend.  Secondly, fit new habits together with existing habits. Choose a habit that’s already second nature, and then schedule your new habit immediately after.  For example, if you’ve resolved to read more, place a book next to your cup of morning coffee.  Existing habits can be a seamless gateway to new activities.  Lastly, practice makes perfect, create checkpoints to help you stay on track: enlist a friend to keep you honest, set alarms throughout the day, or mark your successes on a calendar. The more regularly you practice your new activity, the more quickly it’ll become a part of your life. The other wisdom concerning innovation I came across, that made an impact on me, that I want to share with you, is the following quote from John Bidwell of Chubb Corporation, a large property and casualty insurer in the United States: “While innovation can be groundbreaking, it is more often the incremental improvements of existing technologies and methods – the sum of many small but constant changes that over time can transform the way a company or an industry does business”.  This resonates well with the first piece of advice for growing new habits, and just goes to show that innovation does not have to be the “next big thing”, but think about it as having the potential that the next small innovation can lead to the “next big thing”. With regards to innovation resolutions, here are a few gems I picked up which I believe can make a difference in your organisation’s innovation efforts for this year, courtesy of Jeffrey Phillips of OVO Consulting.  Resolution 1: Planning. Work to incorporate innovation thinking into planning and budgeting cycles like the annual plan. If we can incorporate innovation activities and funding into the plan, it will become something we monitor and measure, rather than something we do in reaction to a competitor. Resolution 2: Learning. Strive to improve awareness and knowledge of innovation methods, tools and frameworks. This means committing some of your own time to improving your innovation skills and knowledge through reading books about innovation, taking classes, going to conferences, etc.  Resolution 3: Take action. Propose at least one radical project this year that is carefully scoped and aligned to corporate goals and objectives, that solves a critical challenge or problem for the business. Then deliver, innovation gains credibility when we take on the most difficult challenges and solve it successfully.

Next Time
It is only three resolutions, but remember, start small!  In the following article I want to focus on the concept of planning for innovation.  I kick-off this year’s quotes with one by Calvin Coolidge: “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once”.
About the writer: Rikus Grobler
After a career of over a decade in the manufacturing and IT industries, Rikus established a specialist business and management consulting firm (Namibia Innovation Solutions) in Windhoek in 2010.  Rikus has a MBA and also holds degrees in Engineering and Law. He is also a certified Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) and he is currently pursuing a PhD degree, focusing on the field of innovation. His passion is corporate innovation and he has consulted in this field for some of the major organisations in Namibia. You can e-mail him at [email protected] or visit his website at www.nis.co.na 

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