In good times and bad times, I encourage you to focus on doing two things every day: deliver quality innovation and master the basics of effective communication.
Innovation and communication go hand in hand. You can’t succeed over the long term as an organization if you are not consistently innovating and communicating effectively.
Don’t make innovation complicated.
Innovation does not automatically equate to electronic technology improvements or medical breakthroughs. Innovation does not have to take years to implement. Innovation does not have to be expensive.
Innovation means creating more value for customers and delivering it in more effective ways. Value is the improved result a customer achieves as a result of using a specific product or service.
So innovation means creating a product or service that improves results for a customer. The more valuable the improved results are for the customer, the more valuable the innovation has been.
The Process of Innovation
There really are just two questions that every innovation needs to address:
- What results are your customers achieving right now, and how are they achieving those results?
- What can your organization do to improve those customer results, and/or how can your organization improve the way they are achieving those results?
Any innovation you create should improve the results customers achieve and/or make the way they achieve the result faster, easier, more reliable, and/or cheaper.
Example of Innovation
In 2007 the iPhone appeared for the first time. It was not cheap. It cost around $400. However, it became a one-stop solution. I no longer needed to carry my lap top, a cell phone, an iPod, and a printout of Google Map directions with me. It made my travel life incredibly easier.
That’s just one simple example of what an innovation looks like.
What result can you improve for a customer, and/or what can you do to improve what the customer needs to do to achieve the result?
Your answer is an innovation. Every day focus on being innovative.
No matter how strong your innovation idea is it won’t be effective if you don’t master the basics of communication.
Effective communication is where you say what you meant to say, the other person understood what you said, and the other person responds to you by saying what he or she meant to say.
What increases the chances of effective communication?
The Essential Steps
- You think through what you want to say.
- You write down what you want to say.
- You have your notes with you while you’re saying it and you’re checking those notes.
- You let the other person know that what you’re saying is important.
- You say it in a memorable way.
- The other person listens closely with full attention.
- The other person takes notes while you’re talking.
- The other person asks questions to clarify his or her understanding.
- The other person says back to you what he or she heard to make sure that it is what you meant to say.
- You make any corrections to what the other person heard to ensure that what you meant to say is what the person heard.
- The other person emails you a written recap of what he or she heard you say so that you can check it in writing.
- You read it over and make any corrections to what was sent to you.
- The other person thinks through what he or she wants to say to you.
- The other person writes down what he or she wants to say.
- The other person has his or her notes while he or she is saying it and is checking those notes.
- The other person says it in a memorable way.
- You listen closely with full attention.
- And then you repeat the steps above.
That all seems so mundane and so basic, doesn’t it?
However, missing any of those steps is what can ruin an effective innovation. It can also ruin a relationship and possibly cost an organization a lot of money, time, and energy.
Great innovation is expensive.
Effective communication is boring.
Neither statement is true.
What is true is you need both every day.