Steps toward Digital Innovation

Have you ever watched the film Cast Away (2000) starring Tom Hanks? I saw it during a plane ride for a business coaching trip several years ago. Its plot revolves around the life of the main character named Chuck in an uninhabited island after surviving a plane crash. Succeeding to get back to his urban lifestyle after four years of living in the island with no one but himself and his imaginary friend, Wilson, Chuck was able to use every resource he found to feed, clothe, entertain, and shield himself. I can only think of one adjective to attribute to Chuck’s success – innovation. Without an innovative mind, he would have remained on the island until his dying day, or even worse, he would have died after a week of solitude and desperation.


I see this movie in the same context as businesses. Chuck has no choice but to innovate and be resourceful. Businesses today are left with the same options: to adopt innovative practices or risk getting left behind. The 21st century calls for new approaches to the target market because the psychology of consumers has changed, the market itself has evolved, competitors are being more aggressive, and science and technology have been consistently flourishing.


It is not a matter of whether the Philippines is a conservative country that sticks with conventional ideas because globalization has been proven to have far-reaching (literally) influences. In today’s day and age, your business will not succeed if it remains tied to the old ways and closed to innovation. This article will walk you through the primary steps toward digital innovation.


1. Feeling of dissatisfaction

Let’s go back to the movie I mentioned above. Chuck was dissatisfied with his living condition in the island that he made ways to change his circumstances, which is why he made up an imaginary friend, why he determinedly tried to produce fire to cook his food, and why he made a makeshift boat to take him to the city. The displeasure he felt pushed him to innovate using available resources. This goes the same for businesses. When people feel disgruntled with how things are, they thirst for change, thereby making it easier to introduce innovation.


2. Need to simplify

Innovation comes with the need to make something simple. When we say simple, it does not automatically mean less successful. After all, the classic maxim “simplicity is beauty” has made its lasting mark. This also leads me to point out the concept of “minimalism”, which has roots in Japanese architecture but is being used today by graphic designers and developers (take for example, Google and Apple’s web pages). With minimalism, less is considered more. In businesses, the more complex a structure or a process is, the more it becomes difficult to perfect as there are rooms everywhere for a mishap. The main goal of innovation, therefore, is not to complicate things but rather to simplify them, in such a way that productivity and efficiency are spelled out in every step of the process. In short, innovation must be able to identify which parts are useless and either change it to something meaningful or remove it from the cycle.


3. Willingness to diversify and differentiate

Let me explain this part in simpler terms. We get bored with routine and similar trends over and over again, don’t we? Hence, having differences is a welcome change. For a business to embrace digital innovation, the diversity of ideas, people, and even principles could be used in order to come up with something more meaningful and more efficient. These opposing ideas could be combined and integrated into something bigger. After all, we acknowledge that creativity is equivalent to out-of-the-box thinking.


4. Being a role model

Innovation cannot happen if business leaders themselves are not open to new and creative ways of doing things in the organization. Most often than not, business leaders who promote innovative thinking are those who are curious, dauntless, cooperative, and welcoming of employees’ thoughts. There are also those who say they encourage creativity but do not even listen to suggestions from employees, who are younger and less experienced and thus are often prejudiced as less knowledgeable. Some leaders shrug these people off without realizing that these people have ideas the later may not have thought about.


5. Knowing which to magnify

Innovation could be applied to almost anything within the existing system. Organizations only need to identify where and which to incorporate innovative practices so that value will be added to the general digital ecosystem. Going back to the movie, Chuck was able to identify the crucial resources he must have in order to survive the terrifying ocean until he gets back to civilization. It was here where he augmented the portable toilet floating ashore as a sail of his raft to take him across the sea.


Innovation has many faces. It does not just mean introducing new technology to the organization. It could also work on the current context provided that those involved have an open mind, creativity, and the drive to bring together the twist.


Let’s talk about how your business could achieve digital innovation.


This is Joey Gurango, your Business Technology Coach!

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