Innovation by thinking differently

Question: Why is it so difficult to break old habits and come up with new ideas that can really make a difference to your business?

Answer: We all have fixed ways of thinking.

You may be thinking that’s not me, but reality for most of us is that we have very fixed routines and habits. Over time we develop ways we like to do stuff. We learn from others and we know what works in our particular business.

I’m not inferring that what you are currently doing is not working; in fact, it may be working very well.

The point that I am making is that to be truly innovative and access new revenue streams we all need to have an open mind to different ways of thinking.

Perhaps one of the best examples of thinking differently is the company Bic. We all know Bic for making ballpoint pens, which they first introduced in 1950.

Can you imagine the boardroom discussion in the 1970s when someone at Bic comes up with the idea to make cigarette lighters?

“You’re crazy, we are a pen making company and we’ve always made pens, and that won’t be changing”

In 1973 Bic launched their first lighter on the market and two years later the disposable shaver. Neither of these products were new innovations but they were new for Bic. To the present day Bic continues to develop new products such as Bic Education – a digital solution for primary school teachers and students in France.

So why did it take Bic about 30 years to create a different product? I’m suggesting that they had a fixed way of thinking about who they are and what they do.

Today’s organisations (yours and mine) need a constant flow of ideas to compete with constant emerging technologies and new product development. This is not achievable without being open to new ways of thinking.

If you fail to adapt to the needs of your customers, more agile competitors who invest time into thinking differently about their business and gain competitive advantage.