Being Content is the Enemy of Innovation S14 Ep11

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Being content may be a positive emotion in some senses.  Not so with innovation. If you are ready to rest on your laurels after a triumph or a stressful circumstance, get ready.  Major change could be looming around the corner. Let me explain why I believe being content can be the enemy of innovation.

enemy of innovation

First, consider what being content means.  Feelings of peace, calm, acceptance of where we are in life, happiness, satisfaction.  Doesn’t sound too bad. The problem comes when we embrace contentment to the point of giving up.  We don’t want to let go of being content. Therefore, we avoid conflict, stress or anything that may rock the boat and shake up the status quo.  

Innovation is the antithesis of stasis.  It’s about being tuned in to what’s wrong with the picture.  Not just seeing the problems but seeking ways to improve on things.  When we are fixed on being content, we develop a false sense that change is slowing down.  It’s at this time that we will miss the weak signals, subtle signs that major change is coming down the pike.  

A false sense of satisfaction is its own form of an innovation antibody.  This state of being content will cause you to shy away from change and avoid risk.  You will trade off the challenges of innovation, going against the grain, for that easy feeling.  Being content becomes the enemy of innovation. True innovators are not content.

Three or four times across my life I’ve slipped into this state of being content.  That is, I felt satisfied and turned on autopilot. Rather than being active, engaged and looking for new ways and new directions to move, I put blinders on and checked out.  The content feelings were short lived. I was taken off guard. Some major change in the world around me took me by surprise. The contentment quickly dissolved.

Don’t get caught off guard.  Here’s what you can do to keep the enemy of innovation at bay.

  1. Challenge yourself to do something uncomfortable.
    • Do something you’ve never done before.
    • Learn something new, something outside your skill set.
    • It opens your eyes to new things and energizes you.
  2. Change up how you do things.
  3. Do daily creative muscle exercises
    • Challenge yourself to come up with 5 problems that need to be solved.
    • These can be
      • personally
      • in your community
      • at your job or school
      • for a non-profit

There are always problems to be solved.  Find a problem. Then go innovate a way to fix it.

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Some products or services evoke strong emotional responses. They are either loved by devoted fans or hated by others. Plenty of companies trade on the fact that mainstream culture will find their product offensive or questionable.

Is there any benefit or purpose to being strategically disliked by some and adored by select devotees? Listen to Five Minutes to New Ideas to hear why you might consider this approach.

 

  • If you have comments or suggestions, drop me a note.  
  • Read about my experiences in the innovation game at PhilMckinney.com.
  • You can also find out information about my book, Beyond the Obvious, at beyondtheobvious.com.  Get a copy through Amazon or wherever you get your books.
  • Pay it forward.  When I wanted to repay my mentor for his investment in my career, he told me to pay it forward.  Help me pay it forward. Give us a rating where you get your podcast. Help spread the word. Tell others about the show.  
  • Be part of the conversation between the shows.  I hang out at The Innovators Community on Slack.  This private community of vetted innovators helps each other succeed.

The Killer Innovations podcast is produced by The Innovators Network.

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