Are You Hungry Enough to Innovate?

Necessity is the mother of invention.  We've all heard that before.  But the reality is, it's true.  And in our workplaces, we often lose site of the real insight within this sentiment.  

We talk a lot about customer and consumer needs.  We do extensive studies on what people want or need or desire or lack.  We dissect our value proposition from the competition.  Insights are gleaned from this work and we make beautiful documents outlining the learnings.

Despite all of this good intention, there is rarely true invention.  

Why?  I believe it's because we just aren't hungry enough.  

We want to come up with a successful innovation, but do we need to?  Will we still get our paycheck if we don't come up with something amazing?  Will our teams still be employed next month?  Will we still be able to pay the rent/mortgage?  Probably.  I'm not suggesting we create a toxic work environment of fear, of course.  But I am calling out it's hard to fake necessity.

I led great, smart, dedicated innovation teams for years.  It wasn't until my own personal tragedy, however, that I realized what was missing.  When I had to find a way to tuck my kids in bed at night - upstairs - and I was in a wheelchair - I had to become innovative.  When I was faced with wearing men's white New Balance tennis shoes to a New Year's Eve wedding because no other shoes would fit a leg brace and a prosthetic foot, I got resourceful! 

Why?  Because I had to.  It was a necessity.

I'm challenging myself to understand how to take this insight into my workplace.  I challenge you to do the same.  What can we do to make ourselves and our teams really think about necessity?  How do we get more resourceful?  How do we really focus on solving people's problems (=innovation), versus just thinking about how to sell one more thing this year.

I'll be excited to hear your ideas...