When most businesses think of innovation, they think of what I would consider to be transformational innovation. What I am referring to is the big advancements that revolutionized organizations and whole industries, such as the founding of social media giant Facebook (now Meta), the first electric vehicle, or moments like the iPod making its debut at Apple.
These are the innovations that entrepreneurs and leaders dream of, picturing a scenario where their ROI is tremendous, they make differences in the world, and they ultimately leave competitors in the dust.
But while focusing on this transformational innovation is certainly one strategy to have, the reality is that a one-time breakthrough only has so much staying power, even if it is as powerful as those aforementioned examples. If you catch lightning in a bottle, as they say, using it to try to stay ahead of the competition truly leaves you missing a large part of the big picture.
Concerning yourself only with large advances in and outside your industry means your scope of significance as an organization is actually quite small! You and your team then miss out on everyday opportunities that Anticipatory Leaders and Anticipatory Organizations who think exponentially take charge of.
Drawing connections to everyday innovation
In this age of digital transformation, Anticipatory Organizations do not just focus on the big opportunities alone, as they are aware that putting everything else on the back burner will only leave them disrupted while they wait.
Instead, those with an Anticipatory Mindset know they must focus on everyday innovation, where their team and organization expand their focus to continuous improvement, developing inventive solutions to everyday problems.
While Hard Trend future certainties are nearly everywhere you look, such as the ever-increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence, the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, the datafication of our marketplace, and the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), what Anticipatory Leaders also realize in harnessing everyday innovation is that there are just as many Soft Trends that they can influence.
The difference here is that they choose to influence those Soft Trends, whereas others may wrongfully assume those low-hanging-fruit opportunities are not something worth investing energy in. But just as Hard Trends and Soft Trends are both very much vital to low-risk innovation and anticipatory thinking, so is the connection between everyday innovation and transformational innovation!
As the age-old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Everyday innovations are integral stepping stones to something much bigger — transformational innovation. Everyday innovation is facilitated by influencing the Soft Trends that you can influence, which pre-solves problems that are part of a bigger Hard Trend that is certain to come. By partaking in everyday innovation, you are building toward that big transformational innovation moment!
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Disruption provides opportunities for everyday and transformational innovation
Not long ago, we witnessed the progress from 4G to 5G because of one of the three digital accelerators I identified long ago: bandwidth. This jump was a revolutionary increase in bandwidth that is already exponentially changing the way we do business, as well as changing our personal lives!
With this increase to 5G speeds, how the Internet of Things advances regarding smart devices and connectivity dramatically increased with it, enhancing infrastructure systems and ultimately making our lives easier.
But any Anticipatory Leader will tell you that living in the moment is only so lustrous. We all know what is coming next — 6G.
However, all of the little innovations along the way within the connectivity we have with 5G will enable you to really leverage the powers of 6G when the time comes. Plus, if you really think about it for a second, you cannot time-travel ahead to the days of 6G with a brilliant, transformational innovation right off the bat, just as you cannot time-travel backward and bring some 5G-based innovation with you to take the world by storm the day 5G debuted.
It is a Hard Trend future certainty that 6G and beyond will be here before we know it, and there will be a transformational innovation opportunity that comes once in a lifetime as a result. But leveraging what we have now with everyday innovation will get you to your goal much faster, among accomplishing other feats along the way that give your business or organization staying power.
Proactivity puts your mind at ease
Learning to leverage Hard Trends and Soft Trends, just as we learn to put our energy into everyday innovation just as much as transformation innovation, is not solely about being the first to something. It is about making a significant world for your business or organization to thrive in while ensuring your future as a business or organization.
The goal is to move to a consistent mindset of proactivity and to not have one that is solely reactive. Trying to bring transformational innovation to your business or organization is a way to be proactive, but we must learn to take the steps of everyday innovation that lead us there.
By utilizing my Hard Trend Methodology, you make any type of innovation far more certain and low-risk than trying to react to the disruptions as you are dealt them.
And if you think about it, this brings you tremendous peace of mind as a leader at your business or organization. When you know what to expect and, moreover, how you can leverage it, you have far more control over your destiny, even in the most uncertain of times.
So be proactive, and always think critically about your industry and the world outside of it! Anticipate what is to come and encourage your employees to do the same, so they can pre-solve problems before they become detrimental issues.
In doing so, seek out everyday innovation opportunities and leverage them to your advantage now. Trust me, they will amount to something transformational.