Innovation is so critical to success that it's easy to fall prey to the myths surrounding it. Is innovation rooted in pure luck? Why are some companies more innovative than others? To start with, don't let these three common myths distract you from creating the new product experience that your customers need.
Myth 1: You Need to Go Offsite to Innovate
While such days may create breakthrough thinking, innovation really needs to be an everyday affair. If you don't build innovation into the daily life and expectation at your company, then it will fail. Don't rely on a crutch for your creativity. Amazon's key principle of "invent and simplify" is at the heart of their success. In my corporate career as part of Amazon Fashion's leadership team, we asked for examples of innovative ideas at interview, assessed employees against it during performance reviews, and only promoted leaders who had proven success building an innovative team. How are you building innovation into every aspect of your business?
Myth 2: Innovative Products Will Motivate Your Employees
It isn't enough to work for an innovative company, you need to pay attention and find innovative approaches to making your employees delighted. The number one complaint from any employee who has to work with customers is the customers! Listen to anyone working in the customer service industry from airlines to hotels and they will share horror stories about rude, obnoxious, or unreasonable customers. Uber decided to turn this upside down and incentivize customers to be considerate and polite to their employees by getting drivers to rate customers after each trip. The secret customer rating (which you can find out if you ask your next Uber driver nicely), gives you a ranking of one to five stars depending on your punctuality and behavior during your trip. Higher scoring customers get picked up faster and eventually may earn an invitation to the exclusive Uber VIP club, a premium service that matches the highest-ranking customers with the top-performing drivers. Do you know the greatest annoyance for your employees and how you could fix it?
Myth 3: Only Proven Success Defines an Innovative Leader
Multiple failure attempts do not disqualify a leader from being known as innovative, quite the opposite. Ask any founder of a start-up; they will share multiple unsuccessful business ideas and ventures, yet still they attract investors and further rounds of funding. Often you cannot pave the road to success until you have hit a few dead ends. The key is not to avoid making mistakes, but to avoid the blame game, be rapidly curious, and consider and commit to making changes as a leader when projects fail. How do you handle failure in your business?
Take a candid look at your company culture. How you build products, make decisions, develop your leaders, communicate, connect with your customers, and engage your investors is critical to the ability to successfully and consistently innovate. Where you could you have the biggest impact by making small changes today?