As business owners, we have to look at the same problems that our customers, industries and competitors have been looking at for years, and see them differently.
In my line of work, I’m hired to examine a client’s business and industry, that they’ve been involved in for over 20 years, and to create something that they’ve never seen before.
That’s why true innovation is so invaluable. If you can train yourself and your team how to see things differently, the possibilities of creating something industry-breaking are endless.
The first thing you can do is put yourself in the shoes of your clients. You can take this literally and do like I do and strap a flip cam to your head and go through all the motions your customers do, or you can interview and observe them in the real world.
You can also look at what’s worked in other industries. Schlitz Beer hit it big a few decades ago by being the first brewery to explain the process of making their beer. Every beer was made the same way, but by being the first to educate people they were able to grab market share.
A few years ago, a lumber company borrowed this same philosophy and described in detail their process for kiln drying their lumber. Not only did they dominate the lumber business, but they made a fortune teaching other lumber yards their process.
Another way to see things differently is to continually seek out the problems people face everyday and see if you can tie them into your business. We all want the same things, be happy, healthy, wealthy, sexy, purposeful, etc. If you’re constantly focused on the needs and wants of people around you, innovation will show itself.
Looking at extreme users on both ends of your client spectrum will also give you insight on where you can find innovation, and often times visiting the exact opposite of what your competitors are doing will open up new doors for you.
Whatever your goals are in business, training yourself to see things differently will be an advantage for innovating in 20 year old industries that all of your competitors thought couldn’t be changed anymore.
The trick is doing it everyday.