Your Company's Next Innovation is Hidden in Plain Sight
Updated: Jul 28
As above, so below. Just as the Universe so the Soul. As within, so without. -Hermes Trismegistus
Innovation Translation: As within the workplace, so outside in the marketplace.
At the time the above quote was written (over 2000 years ago) Hermes was said to be a part of the most creative and innovative thinkers of the era. Who knew it would be the opening quote for a blog on innovation in the 21st century. I suppose it testifies to the eternal truth of the quote. While I know very little of Hermeticism beyond the quote, I do find it a perfect jumping-off spot for this post. Innovation, although wildly talked about in the marketplace, is far less touted in the internal workplace. As within, so without. And it's why I believe the next big innovation is hidden in plain sight within your company.
So what does it mean to move beyond talking about it, to being a company that lives it? Innovation starts within. And by within, I don't define that as a single internal innovation team, although those are useful. I mean within, as innovation permeating every cell of the organization. Every cell means every human employed in the organization. Today's most innovative companies have innovative cultures. And like chickens lay eggs and not bricks. Innovative cultures make innovative companies and create innovative products in the marketplace. As within, so without.
It doesn't work the other way around. And yet companies are spending like mad to create or acquire the next product innovation to bring company growth. All the while, the actual creative depth of the company feels disengaged, underdeveloped, disregarded, and disenchanted with company hype over the latest change coming down the pike. But no worries their creativity isn't going to waste. Employees are using their creativity. Creating their side hustle, to find that job that is more fulfilling, and to battle the mind-numbing suck the company has on their very soul.
The effects of innovative karma on your company
While the disengaged and disenchanted create their side hustle and acquire the resources and confidence to launch their start-up. Company leaders are scanning the horizon for that perfect start-up to acquire. That fantastic start-up they envision will bring growth, relevance, and competitive advantage. The company finds "the one" and spends millions to bring them in the front door while the disengaged and disenchanted slip out the back door. All the while, this innovation through acquisition model has a failure rate of an average of 70%. The failure rate is nothing more than karma. You can't overlook the innovative genius within your organization and hope to see it elsewhere. Failure to see what's within equals the inability to see what's outside. As within, so without.
When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things the chance to catch you. -Lolly Daskal, Founder Lead from Within
In contrast, leaders can spend a fraction of the cost to discover the creative abilities of their employees. The unleashing of this creativity will result in authentic in-house innovations. It's an abundance of innovation opportunities lying hidden in plain sight in the majority of organizations today. Instead of buying innovation, create an innovative culture. Building an innovative culture starts by solving the most significant HR challenges facing companies today. Solving these HR challenges results in the performance and innovation that will take your company to the next level. (Engaged employees exhibit 202% greater productivity)
How to create an innovative culture
Culture: the behaviors, beliefs, and characteristics of a particular group. Social, ethnic, or age group. (Dictionary.com)
Therefore, how the heck can a culture be innovative when according to the HR challenges its disengaged, underdeveloped, lacks diversity, and riddled with communication/relationship issues. The two cultures could not be more opposed to one another. To create an innovative culture, you must first remove every obstacle that is not innovative. Understanding the obstacle is the path is the first step.