The state of the economy, the real estate market, and the world all have an effect on business, but changes can also affect us as individuals. When times are good, answers to challenges can come easy, but when times are hard, obstacles can seem insurmountable. This aspect of human nature attributes to why we find it inspirational when people find success despite opposition.

Humanity has always enjoyed tales about pushing through adversity, no matter if they are real or fiction. Be it Odysseus' journey in The Odyssey or Franklin D. Roosevelt's overcoming polio, there is something special about overcoming challenges. This same sentiment applies when taken into the realm of innovation. We love to talk about adversity as a catalyst for innovation because it is exciting and motivational.

However, many organizations, individuals, and industries choose to ignore the harsh reality: Surviving is not thriving. What is good is not great. Being able to innovate at all times is essential to thriving and growing as a business. Here are three ways in which you can keep innovating even during good times.

Develop and Maintain Innovation Programs

The easiest way to encourage innovation is to make it a recurring concern for your team. The best way to do this is by creating programs that promote innovation in your organization via activities and projects, making innovation part of your culture.

Launching an innovation program requires you to understand the status of your business, set expectations, and integrate the plan with your existing business model. However, the most critical aspect you should consider is the human one. Ensure your employees are excited about launching the project, allowing them to provide feedback and help build it.

I've seen how well this can work with my own team. Innovation programs come with the added benefit of having a dedicated team working to help your innovation efforts. You can start by sharing out an innovation trends article across the leadership team. Then spark a discussion in a team meeting about one of the topics and see who is the most engaged. This can set the innovation team up for success with identifying the leaders and team members that could execute a new strategy. From developing strategies to evaluating their success, this team will be an essential asset to drive positive change in your organization. 

Be Ready to Push Limits

Surprisingly, many people looking to innovate are not ready to push the limits to do so. While innovating could be described as pushing the boundaries of what is possible, I am referring to political and cultural limitations. More often than not, innovation is thought about only from a technological point of view, and the other aspects of it are often unrecognized.

The sustainable farming industry is an excellent example. Sustainable farming in itself is not an innovation, as humanity has been farming since 2800 B.C. But entrepreneurs like Ryan Early are recognized as innovators in the industry for advocating for sustainable agriculture practices and creating a business model to support this push.

Early's approach was innovative by itself, but it would lead to further innovation as well. For example, his interest in the U.S. government's hemp projects of WWII would lead him to discover a compound that helps plants grow faster and use less fertilizer and water. He has also developed one of the best all-natural fungicides as a result.

Looking for opportunities to push legal and social boundaries to innovate can be a rolling snowball for innovation. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a new technology or process must come before.

Plan for the Worst

Sometimes the best way to innovate during good times is to change your mindset and imagine the worst scenario. By planning for the worst before it takes place, you can ensure you are ready for it. If it makes you feel better then read about failed innovation so you can learn from others mistakes. 

An idea doesn't necessarily need to have practical applications at the time of conception to be valuable. In fact, we have many examples of innovative theories and products that were ahead of their time and wouldn't have applications until decades or centuries later. The French inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented recorded audio 20 years before Edison's phonograph, which allowed audio to be played back.

He decided to do something differently, without knowing it would make any effect at all, just to see if he could. And now we get to enjoy new innovations like movies, podcasts, and streaming services because someone in the 19th century challenged what was possible. You never know how new ideas can affect the future, so you should challenge yourself at all times. 

While we want to find solutions during hard times to make life and business better, innovation cannot just be a one and done type of activity. It must become a habit that is developed, maintained, and regularly expected. Be ready to push the limits and challenge what's possible.