At the end of the day, people failing to progress – at whichever stage – need a way to take action. It is not always possible to will yourself into a new mindset. This is where establishing a structural solution is key in innovating yourself.
The best intervention is a structure to help you take action or change your behavior habitually, and I’ve found from my experience that it includes three elements – A time and place, other people and, finally, a financial incentive (whether it be rewarding or punitive).
By establishing a time and place to take action, you are carving out space to tackle your challenge, this might also include setting a deadline. Secondly, involving other people in your innovation process establishes accountability. Whether they are a partner, mentor or coach, creating accountability to someone outside of yourself can be one of the strongest motivators for many people – it also ensures you have someone to either bounce ideas with or who might be able to offer guidance and advice, one of the best ways to innovating at a higher level. Finally, putting a financial incentive on the line is a surefire way to make the most out of your time.
Consider this – you may have gotten a better value from the things you have paid for than the things you received for free. For instance, it may be more effective to pay a personal coach than to rely on friend to do it for free. Similarly, if you pay for an event, you are more likely to show up – and pay attention so you actually learn something. When there is money on the table, you are more determined to make the most of your investment.
On a personal level, scheduling a time to accomplish a task and then applying the pomodoro technique can be very effective as well. For the pomodoro technique, take a kitchen timer or set an alarm for 10 minutes – and just work in that burst to access the power of the pomodoro technique. If you commit to ideating or creating for ten or twenty minutes straight by time blocking, you may not come up with the most amazing ideas ever, but just getting something out gives you a foundation to build off of – because we all know starting is the hardest part.
In an office setting, one way to establish a structural solution for innovation within a group is to hold a standing meeting every day – this comes from the AGILE/SCRUM method. For standing meetings, the team meets at a set time every day and everyone goes around in a circle to share three things – What they did yesterday, what they are doing today and one obstacle that is slowing them down or tripping them up.
This method sets up a time and place and creates accountability for each employee to the entire team. In this scenario, you could consider professional evaluation and salary to be the financial incentive.
Other structural solutions I’ve seen applied in the corporate setting includes applying AGILE to sprints for design projects. Using AGILE, employees take a project and break it down into smaller, more manageable deliverables that build up to the bigger picture they can hit every week – rather than taking on a large project and slapping on an end date of six months with undetermined goals to meet along the way.
Design sprints are also an excellent way to rapidly generate and validate ideas in just five days with real users (five days is all that you need). Each day is divided up into different things to tackle, by the hour or spending a morning on one thing, and the afternoon on another.
It is up to you to design your own innovations and put in place your own structural solutions for yourself that will help you to have a growth mindset for innovation and act on it. What structure or techniques could you design into how you work that could be habits?