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BUILDING INTEGRATION

Posts Tagged ‘innovate’

Making time to innovate in the new year

This time of year can be really overwhelming. The hustle and bustle isn’t just limited to our personal lives. The end of year can be crazy busy in our work lives, too. There are budgets to finalize, invoices to issue, bills to pay, issues to troubleshoot, all as people are preparing to take time off for the holidays.

I don’t have any scientific studies to back me up, but I’m guessing not a lot of innovation happens in the final weeks of Q4 every year. That’s got me thinking about next year, and how I can plan now to lead my team to be even more innovative in 2020. Here are my thoughts:

Make time for thinking. It’s easy to fall into the mistaken notion that lots of activity means lots of productivity. Take a look at your calendar and to do lists – most of the time is probably blocked off for meetings, most of the items to be checked are probably tactical in nature. Where and how we invest our time is a reflection of what we value. When I look at my calendar, I’m not convinced I see the value of thinking reflected. It takes time to truly think and explore ideas and solutions.

Make time for building relationships. It’s also easy to slip into transactional relationships with our business networks. But there’s value in making time to share coffee, lunch or drinks with partners and discuss higher-level topics. Getting to know the bigger vision and driving passions of those we serve is key to finding opportunities to support and further that vision. Those dreams won’t always fit in bullet points or a slide deck, or even one conversation.

Make time for wellness. It might be a workout, a walk, or meditation, but wellness breaks are a great way of getting out of a rut and hitting “refresh” on a mental block. I find myself thinking about challenges in a whole new way if I step away and meaningfully disconnect for a time.

What would you add to be more innovative in 2020?

Sparking innovation by reflecting on the past

Innovation seems inherently forward looking. When we innovate, we make something new happen.

But can looking back help drive innovation?

As the year draws to a close, now seems like a good time to pause and reflect. The past year offered a lot of good lessons if we choose to pay attention and learn them. It would be a shame to waste those lessons. These questions and thought starters will help spark some worthwhile reflections:

How did we perform against goals? If you haven’t been keeping score throughout the year, now is a good time to revisit goals set at the beginning of the year and see how you did. Be sure to assess sales goals, service targets, revenue targets and other performance metrics. What drove success? Where did you fall short, and why?

Take a look over time. Break down performance and achievements by month. Were some months better than others? Did one poor month drag down the rest of the year? It’s also helpful to revisit performance year over year. Are you spotting seasonal trends? How can you make the most of them?

Put it in context. Step back and look at the larger picture. Other useful contextual measures might include the overall economy. If your business is strongly impacted by the local economy, look at what was going on regionally. Did new events or business expansions give your own performance a lift? If so, look ahead for similar opportunities in the coming year. What lessons did you learn this year that will enhance lift even more next year when a similar opportunity emerges?

Do over. If you could go back and make just one decision differently this year, what would it be? Does that decision change future decisions or processes?

What sparked your interest this year? Take a look back at new products, tools, features or services that launched in the last year. Think beyond your industry. What was most exciting to you? Are there connections or applications for your work?

Who made an impact on you? As you look back over the last year, what new person brought the most value to your life, and why?