How do you get to be good at tennis? Practice + motivation.
How do you stay good at tennis? Practice + motivation.
How do you continue to improve? Practice + motivation.
You might be born with talent. You might have learned all the theory. But, unless you put in the hard yards and focus on improvement, unless you have the motivation to keep going and the belief in yourself, your natural talent or theoretical knowledge won’t be enough.
The same goes for any skill, including mental skills and processes like innovation. Say you want your team to come up with a new and engaging customer experience. You can’t just expect people to be innovative because you tell them to be, especially if this is not something the team has done before.
Olga Cuesta is the Head of Customer Experience and Design at Medibank. She has always been fascinated by what drives people and the human mind. When Olga gave her presentation, Significant, scalable, and sustainable innovation, as part of Florence Guild’s speaker series, ‘The Antidisciplinary Future’, she pointed out that we have to train our minds to think innovatively in the same way that athletes train. After all, Roger Federer might be one of the best tennis players of all time, but he still spends time on the practice court every single week to keep his skills sharp and to improve his game.
In his article for Forbes, 3 simple ways to improve your innovation skills, Jack Zenger explained how he and his colleague, Joe Folkman, discovered that the most highly-correlated behaviour of leaders that accomplished their work quickly and with high quality was innovation. When they looked further to find the qualities that allowed these leaders to break out of the mould and try new things, they discovered 3 common traits. Each leader:
- Showed a willingness to change and to put in the time and practice.
- Wouldn’t settle for ‘good enough’.
- Assembled an innovative community around them.
Olga also pointed out that innovation and invention are not the same things. “Innovation can be seeing what no others see or seeing it in a different way.” She gives several excellent examples of how innovative thinking can lead to unique and engaging products and experiences that challenge how things ‘should’ be done. These included the city that found a way to use existing infrastructure and funding to reward drivers for good behaviour, rather than focus on penalising poor driver behaviour.
Olga believes that if you are not failing, you are not being risky enough. You’ve got to have the freedom to try things out in a controlled manner that you can assess and learn from – just like top athletes do.
‘The Antidisciplinary Future’ series narrative explores how we can look outside traditional disciplines to find better ways to live and work now and in the future. To hear more of Olga’s insights on ‘Significant, scalable and sustainable innovation’, tune in to episode 11 of our podcast. You can also keep up to date with conversations with other thought leaders by subscribing to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.