In many organizations you will find employees that are perceived as “innovative minds”. They are generally the ones who come with the brilliant ideas and trendy cool concepts that no one else in the organization have thought about. The first time you met these employees, you generally wonder how they do to be so innovative. However, when you become more acquainted with these individuals and you learn how they have become innovative, sometimes you realize that you can be perceived as an innovative mind too. So, what makes these employees so innovative? Personally I would limit my thinking to three simple hierarchically-related mantras. So here they are:
1. Get out of your comfort zone;
2. Explore what is done elsewhere in the world;
3. Adapt already existing so-called “new concepts” to your targeted audience.
1. Get out of your comfort zone
So let’s start with the first mantra: “Get out of your comfort zone”. This may seems obvious to many, but getting out of your comfort zone takes a huge amount of courage and discipline. Most well-known businessmen or artists had to use this quality at least once to meet their (career) objectives. This doesn’t mean being completely irrational, this means to take calculated risks that could generate strong outcomes. Imagine you are a media planner and an employee of yours proposed a media campaign targeted to youth that uses “old salty clichés” from the hip hop world. You think this concept can reach your targeted audience but you barely hate hip-hop music and you’re around 40 years old. What about buying some tickets for the next hip hop concert in your area? Find the “ethnographer” in you, just get out of your comfort zone!
2. Explore what is done elsewhere in the world
When you’re travelling a lot, you realize that some new campaigns on your national television are simply insignificant copies of successful campaigns that are launched elsewhere in the world. Imagine how much innovative ideas you can have if you have recently seen some of these campaigns when traveling or via the Internet. Personally, my lucky “13” cities list to find some cool concepts would include from West to East the following cities:
1. San Francisco
2. New York
3. Rio de Janeiro
8. Tel Aviv
3. Adapt already existing so-called “new concepts” to your targeted audience
Imagine you get out of your comfort zone, you pick the best “new concepts” from around the world and you adapt them to your targeted audience. What will your colleague think you are? Quite innovative, no? To be perceived as an innovative mind, the important is not to be the first to launch a concept in the world. What is most important is to be the first to launch that concept to your targeted population. Complete your mix with qualities such as (1) intelligence, (2) strong observational skills and (3) well-developed communication skills, and you got the perfect package. A good example of this is the popular lipdub by UQÀM students launched on YouTube during summer 2009. What did the UQÀM students do. Well, in summary they:
(1) Took the same concept HEC Montréal students have done months before,
(2) Choose one of the most popular song of the summer (Black Eyed Peas song) instead of an old Bryan Adams song,
(3) They communicate their creation to local Medias.
Was the concept really innovative? No way. Was it perceived as innovative? For sure. Final outcome: Around 4.5 million YouTube views and coverage at least all across North America. My verdict: Brilliant.
Briefly, remember that you don’t need to be the first one that has a real new concept in mind to be perceived as innovative, you only need to know where to find the information that no one else in your organization knows and adapt it to your targeted audience. What do you think about these three points?