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Can you force innovation?
December 8, 2016

People who have started successful businesses say the idea for their venture came to them “out of the blue.”

But many experts believe that innovation follows patterns and that you can recreate the circumstances from which creativity springs. If you face business challenges, consider the advice from these experts.

Plan for change

Steven Johnson’s television show How We Got to Now traces the development of the innovations that made the modern world.

John Greathouse highlights the 13 common factors and circumstances that have led to important innovations over the years. “Today’s entrepreneurs should take these historical commonalities to heart,” he says. Prepare yourself for disruption in order to take advantage of the opportunities that come with it.

Gain the innovator’s edge

There are entire fields of study devoted to trying to predict innovation, but understanding how to cultivate it can give your venture an edge.

In an analysis of how companies adapt in a changing world, a speech by Martin Reeves, “How to build a business that lasts 100 years,” looks at common principles held by successful companies. He finds that while goal-oriented, efficient organizations do well in the short term, companies that are less rigid are better at adapting to changes and absorbing unexpected shocks, and ultimately position themselves to take advantage of changes in their market or industry.

Nudge your employees

For business leaders looking for concrete advice, Mark Murphy, writing in Forbes, provides suggestions for helping colleagues to think creatively and applying “gentle pressure on your people to innovate.”

  • Encourage article-reading groups to help employees encounter new ideas.
  • Host meetings for managers to share their experiences.
  • Ask employees to keep a best-practice journal to inspire them to learn from examples out in the world.