With the year coming to a close, it’s time for introspection.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you see yourself as an innovator and leader within your organization. You pride yourself on staying current with technological trends and market movements, try to think outside the box, and promote continuous improvement within your role and company as a whole.
With elections, celebrity deaths, and international conflicts, there was no shortage of stress in the past 52 weeks. But while most events in our lives are out of our control, there were a number of things that you either didn’t do or take full advantage of in 2016, both personally and as an innovation-minded professional.
You can always do better, and while a calendar shouldn’t be your only reason for change, the new year is as good a time as any to find a new sense of motivation and drive for self-improvement. Here are 8 things you should focus on to solidify your standing as an “innovator” in 2017.
Don’t be ignorant of the walls and world around you. Stay “in the know” at your company by attending meetings, actually reading memos, opening emails, monitoring social accounts, and actively seeking insights into the goals and direction of the operation from management and executives. Make an effort to stay up to date with your industry and trends in your marketplace, as well as trends and advancements in technology that could benefit you and your organization.
Don’t just go through the motions every day. This is much easier said than done depending on your responsibilities, but actively trying to break the monotony of daily tasks by paying attention to your surroundings, making actionable observations, sparking conversations, and constantly seeking improvement helps to keep your mind active and can help to generate new ideas to make your job easier and the company more efficient.
Seek opportunities outside of your core responsibilities. Attending a trade-show or networking event, supervising a new initiative, or attending an optional meeting helps to position you as a leader, shows you’re serious about moving the company forward, and can lead to further career development opportunities or better strategic management and innovation.
Innovators are obsessed with improvement. Whether a small change to a department or an idea for a new product or service, innovation requires looking at the big picture, not just your core responsibilities. Look outside your role, make observations, employ divergent thinking exercises, and discover new ways to get things done. Not everything will work out, but the practice promotes a continuous improvement mentality that can’t be overvalued.
Share your Ideas
Ideas are worthless if they’re stuck in your head. Effective innovation and improvement is dependent on a steady flow of new ideas and concepts, so don’t be afraid to share yours. Team members and co-workers are a great source of feedback, fellow managers can provide the necessary validation and case studies, and executives can sign off and give you the go-ahead to bring your concepts to life.
Sharing your ideas is great, but they may not get the necessary feedback in the echo-chamber of a single department. Branching out in the company and even to external contacts brings new perspective to your concepts, and helps to improve them. Making an effort to network and collaborate also makes you a resource for others’ ideas as well, positioning you as the innovator that people come to for feedback.
Take more Risks
Speak up and don’t be afraid of rejection. You don’t have to go rogue to promote changes within your organization, but you can’t do it without taking action either and that requires an appetite for risk. No one wants to anger their boss, but most often your efforts will be seen in a positive light, and help you to make your name as an innovator.