Since the beginning of time humans have always embraced the curiosity of the unknown. As children we dream of being our favorite super hero/shero, we imagine taking the last shot of a big game, flying above the clouds, or doing the impossible. The older we get the less incline we are to dream due to the demands of life, family, and adult responsibilities. How often do you find yourself thinking, "I wish there was a better way of doing this?" or "Why are we still doing this outdated process?" or any question that challenges the status quo. We are often plagued with the question of why, how, or when - yet we rarely find the time to dig into solutions. Again, this can be due to a few factors but one factor that I have always come across as a leader is time. The time to think through the solution to address the problem but, due to the demands of life it seems easier to just push through.
This is where innovators can be valuable asset to your team. An innovator is someone who goes beyond the question and pushes through the frustration to identify new methods, ideas, or products. Innovators see time as it is designed to be, linear, whereas the non-innovator may view it as cyclic. When we see time as linear we understand if we can address these challenges now we can see improvement in the future. However, when we see it as a cycle we avoid the long-term solution and continue doing things as we have done them in the past in order to not disrupt the flow of things. Innovators are not afraid to embrace that childhood belief that anything is possible. So where some may see a problem, the innovator will see opportunity. This type of energy on your team can do amazing things to assist in embracing change, adapting, and pivoting to save your business. Think about the businesses from years ago - blockbuster is one that comes to mind when we think about companies who did not understand the importance of innovating. Continuing to do things the safe way to maintain the status quo and eliminate disruption is the surest way to become obsolete in the future. Having someone on your team who is not afraid to dream, introduce new ideas, and challenge you to think outside of the box is incredibly valuable.
I can recall joining a team a few years ago which consisted of experienced leaders who were perfectly fine with maintaining their current operating model. After a few months in the role I quickly identified several redundancies and non-impacting practices that required a ton of effort producing minimal results. I can remember spending all weekend working on a proposed plan to address these issues and perfecting my pitch. During my next meeting with my direct manager I presented the idea to her and was blown away by the excitement she shared. It turned out that this was an issue that had been going on for a few years and no one took the time to fully think through how to approach this without drastically disrupting the business. The processes and tactical changes I introduced that day went on to impact the entire learning & development organization of our company. It all started with a question, "Why is this so difficult" and an understanding that time spent to identify a solution will result in better efficiency in the future.
So, as you can see having someone who desires to dream of the impossible and embrace the willingness to do the work is invaluable. The next time you find yourself or your team in a meeting questioning the status quo - ask yourself how can I be more like the innovator? What can we do today as a team to positively change how we operate in the future?