Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Later this month, on Oct. 18, the Society of Innovators will host its 8th Annual Induction Ceremony at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond for local innovators from Northwest Indiana. The purpose of this society is to celebrate innovation and creativity in our region.
So what is innovation?
What does it means to mid-size and small businesses?
How does innovation affect the local economy?
Where does innovation start?
Why is innovation so important especially now?
Innovation probably like so many other words has different definitions depending upon the individual. If we trace the roots of this word, we learn innovation derives from the Latin word “innovatus” the past participle of “innovare” meaning to renew or change.
Innovation is not as much about creating something new, but rather renewing something that currently exists. In simpler terms, innovation is truly about “building a better mousetrap.”
This explanation made more sense to me upon reflecting what I heard at the Heartland Mobile University Conference last week from Jeff Ulrich, Manager of Innovation for United Airlines. Ulrich is a Michigan City native.
During his presentation, Ulrich presented a timeline specific to customer service within the airline industry beginning in 1995 with the e-ticket to 2012 with real-time mobile flight information data. This most recent innovation for the airline industry specific to mobile or mobility is the “kiosk in the customer’s pocket.”
Innovation is a consistent tool for all entrepreneurs. The ability to renew existing solutions (products or services) or change them to fit the current market trends such as mobile is what small business owners to the larger firms have been doing since their inception.
The hurdle for those engaged in business appears to be not one, but threefold:
1. Thinking differently
2. Having the resources of time, energy, money and emotions
3. Being ahead of the flow (proactive) instead of reactive
Thinking differently is best summed up by this quote: “If you always think like you have always thought, you will always get what you always got.” (Source unknown) To think differently is a reflective process and does lead into the second hurdle of resources.
Leaders be they small business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals to C Suite executives are resource strapped. There appears not to be enough time to take care of the daily “To Do List” less alone reflecting upon revising a current solution. Innovation does require time and the best way is to schedule that time into your weekly activities.
The final hurdle of being ahead of the flow is probably connected to being aware. How many times are we unaware because we have confused symptoms with problems?
This past week I spoke at the Indiana Association for Home and Hospice Care on sales leads generation. During the last 10 years, I have consistently asked this question when it comes to securing new sales leads: “With a show of hands, how many of you have followed up on 100 percent of all new sales leads?” And to date, the raised hands are under 1 percent.
The real problem is not gaining new sales leads, but having a process to deal with existing sales leads. Those in attendance now had awareness. And yet, I wonder how many will take action upon this awareness through innovation to renew and change their existing results?
Next Monday is Columbus Day and next week’s column will explore innovation and risk taking. The column on Oct. 15 will look at innovation and entrepreneurship with Oct. 22 discussing failure and innovation. On Oct. 29, because it’s so close to Halloween, the magic of innovation and creativity will be the main topic.
P.S. Shout Out to all innovators and organizations that support innovation here in Northwest Indiana.
Society of Innovators
Heartland Mobility Council