Businesses are often forced to innovate and change - but it's much better to plan it and transform on your own terms.
Many of the most revolutionary changes in businesses happen because they are forced - disruption from market changes, competitive pressure, technical issues and even budget constraints.
But there is a better way; if you can innovate on your terms you can do so without time pressure and end up with a better result.
You just need to nail the 5 keys to innovation - purpose, vision, goals, urgency and leadership.
Forced innovation can produce results
I was recently reminded about a great example of forced innovation from the original Star Trek TV series - “to boldly go where time and budget will allow.”
The iconic transporter responsible for the misquote "beam me up, Scotty" was created because they didn't have enough money for the set and special effects required to film the USS Enterprise landing on planets.
The fall-back plan was to have a landing shuttle - but this was also unsuccessful because the life-sized model couldn't be created in time.
Running out of time, out of money and out of options – and the transporter was born.
This new idea was much cheaper, using simple special effects using backlit aluminium powder super-imposed over the actors.
I also think it was a better, more futuristic solution - but it was only created because of budget and time constraints.
High pressure, stressful changes aren't fun
When you are forced to innovate there is a lot at risk if you can’t successfully change. This puts a lot of stress and pressure into the mix – and can create a negative focus.
Purpose - can be anything from solving immediate problems to avoiding going out of business; where there is pain, the purpose is made very clear. Regularly.
Vision - a future where you take away pain is easy to for people to identify with. If your team fear the business may fail, that will galvanise action - but for some that action could be to look for work elsewhere.
Goals - when the business is in hard times, there is a lot of focus on the numbers - and targets may be set based on financial need, but could be completely divorced from reality.
Urgency - the environment of a business that is up against a wall is full of urgency, sometimes even panic - but fear can lead to bad decisions and inefficiency.
Leadership - no-one wants to go down with the ship; so while clear direction may be set - it could be in the form of pressure, rather than inspiration.