Learn to fail. Fail often. Fail fast. Does this sound familiar? Failure is the current focus in many schools of “entrepreneurial thinking”. We contend that it is of no consequence whether you failed – rather, it’s what you learned that’s important. For us, “You win or you learn” is the key to keeping going when things don’t turn out quite as we had anticipated.
Seeking the “why” of any outcome will build your understanding of the processes, paradigms, or procedures that got you there. That kind of insight will improve your future outcomes, regardless of whether you won – or learned.
Have you ever pulled a coat or purse you haven’t used for awhile from the closet, only to discover money inside? Even when it’s a small amount, you feel richer. Lucky, even. You can do the same thing with your business. Whether it’s going back through your idea file (you do have one, don’t you?) or getting together with colleagues to review some back-burner projects, or even meeting with clients to review what’s changed in their agenda or strategy recently, there’s an undiscovered opportunity awaits. We have all sorts of facilitation techniques we use to make these tasks easier and more fun, like the Innovation Game® Me and My Shadow. If you’re not making interesting, useful discoveries to move your business forward, search through some of those “coat pockets” you haven’t looked in for awhile. We’re sure there’s some luck waiting in there somewhere.
Try these steps today to find it:
1. Call a client you haven’t seen recently, and set up some time to observe them while they’re using your product or service.
2. Think back to January and the projects you were going to start but haven’t, then pick one, and get going!
3. Pull out a file on an old sale or project – and see if you can figure out a better way to approach it, knowing what you learned in the process.
When we were thinking about the idea of exploring, Steve Blank came to mind (“get the heck out of the building”), but really, we think Robin Williams is so memorable when he describes what would happen if Siri was French, and was asked to find a restaurant in Paris. Innovation is all about exploration, and it’s vital to get outside and look around. Sitting at your desk, your bench, your workshop, or in your studio won’t get you where you need to go. It’s important to stop flying around on autopilot and to really pay attention. So get outside and explore.
Three ideas to try this week to get your inner innovator working:
1. Take a new route to work – new highway exits or transit stops will help you remember how to practice mindful travel.
2. Instead of looking up that great restaurant (or other important information), walk to a library, call a colleague, or visit a target customer.
3. Use a microscope – or a telescope. That is, look at something you’ve been wrestling with from a more micro, or macro, perspective.