Tomorrow is a new day. No matter what you’ve been doing up until now, no matter how bad you’ve been at thinking of new ideas,
no matter how bad you’ve been at bringing ideas to market, tomorrow is a chance for you to choose to do more of the same — or try something else.
Many of the things that you think will stop you from doing something new aren’t real. They’re in your head. You’ll find that out when you try. We’re not life coaches but we know this much to be true.
And when you do get started with something new, you should expect it to be totally different. Otherwise, where is the fun in it?
So you won’t always know what every iteration holds, you won’t know if your ideas are going to work, and you won’t know if people want to buy what you’re selling. That’s alright, you’ve got massive corporation there to keep you going while you learn. You’re not a lean startup — you’re a super startup.
Be brave. Remember, however good your company’s business model is today, it won’t last. As an innovator, your job is to extend the life your company has by coming up with new ways to do something that adds value. Your idea won’t last forever either. That’s alright. Nothing does.
And don’t feel like it’s your responsibility to come up with something which will keep the jobs of all those that work in your business today. This might be valiant but it’s not realistic. Perhaps some will move to the new business, but that cannot be your motivation. You must be focused on your customer and the proposition you’re building, and on making that excellent.
The approaches we’ve suggested here are very practical. We’re not really interested in academic theories, we just want to copy the best of what we’ve seen in companies doing new things. This is good, as universities can make even the most sluggish businesses look like a hive of activity and progress.
So much of what you must do to be successful is to unlearn the behaviour which will make you successful in the business you’re in today. When we find something we don’t know, our most natural instinct is to poke it and prod it to find out more. But this behaviour is not taught in the formal and informal schools of business, where we are shown that confidence, clarity and prediction are the only hallmarks of good leaders.
Well, prepare to be a different sort of leader; a humble one, who sees unknowns as interesting challenges rather than threats to their status and image. Prepare too to work harder than you ever have before. Remember, there are two reasons why founders always look back fondly on their early years. The first is that it was exciting. No two days are the same. You learn not just one new thing but hundreds of new things every day. You meet new people, think new thoughts, and flex muscles and brain cells which may not have been touched for years. It’s exhilarating. The second is that they no longer have to do it. It’s so much easier to recognise the brilliance of something that was difficult to achieve when it’s in the past.
But to be successful in innovation you must learn how to maintain this approach for long periods. You must pick up the next challenge as fervently as you picked up the last. When you see one idea die, you must brush yourself off and start on the next. Occasionally, that desk job may start to appeal again.
But this is the world you now occupy — making the unthinkable thinkable.