Let’s dispel a myth right here and now: innovation is not a product of big budgets and information age technology.
In my experience, innovation comes from only one thing: Asking different questions to find different solutions.
And, innovation is almost always driven by scarcity. Some say, Necessity is the mother of invention. Others shorten that to Necessity is a mother. We get creative – we have to innovate – when solving problems using severely limited resources (time, money, manpower) or against constraints (rules, regulations, laws). These limitations force us to ask different questions. Questions such as: How can we get the result we need using our very limited budget? Rather then purchasing new software, how can we get better use out of what we have? How can we build social media presence without increasing the marketing budget? How can we get a good intern two weeks before the semester ends?
But, asking different questions, challenging the way we always do it, seeking solutions that our outside of the proven/accepted/traditional/approved routes is not the path to popularity. Different questions create solutions which create different results. The challenge is, us humans usually want the different (better) results using the same questions and same solutions. So we try to “innovate” by doing more of the same things and just throwing more resources at it.
That’s a major reason why small startups tend to be more innovative than large and established companies. They have to solve problems differently. They have no choice. And they aren’t locked into legacy. They are ok with different.
Again: innovation comes from asking different questions to find different solutions.
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You can stop reading right there. But I love music and it’s Friday and I wanted to share a quick music video highlighting of innovation driven be a lack of resources.
The first is from Van Canto, the world’s first (only?) a capella metal band. They do use a drummer but create all guitar and bass sounds solely with voice – very creative, innovative, and unique. (Clearly they were asking very different questions about what would make a great metal band.)
To make the video for the song Rebellion, the band posted a short clip on YouTube and asked their fans to: Listen to Rebellion loud, dress as Scottish People and film yourself headbanging and freaking around. You don’t have to sing, just have fun. If you can recruit some friends joining you – Great! The more, the better.
No budget, no problem. They did far better without. The result is fun, creative, built relationships with the fans, and cost almost nothing to make. Much different than all the big budget videos that ask the same questions and get the same answers as every other big budget video (yawn!). [Bonus HR question: how could you create an onboarding video just as cool, fun, and inexpensive?]