Why You Can’t Just Show Up to Innovation Day

I often get the “Hey, how can we innovate as a company?” question with little attention to each individual employee’s drive to innovate in their daily work lives being a major factor in one’s mind. That is the equivalent of asking “Hey, how can I win the super bowl?” without having a team composed of NFL football players.

Innovation is a sport to be practiced not something you can just show up on game day and expect to win. How many NFL football players don’t practice being great football players everyday and expect to win games every weekend?

Like any professional sport: if you don’t innovate in your daily life you won’t innovate anywhere else.  The funny thing is if you tell someone who wants to be the greatest football player in the world to practice everyday and to push themselves to be a better player every time they practice you will get nods of support from just about anyone listening. (After all running the same drill with the same times will keep you playing JV your whole life.) Conversely, if you ask someone within a business that wants to innovate to constantly be thinking and implementing ways to change their best practices, improve their tools set, update their processes, or try new ways to be more efficient at the office you will often get a majority of employees supporting a resistance and responding with rolled eyes followed by something to the effect of “it’s fine just the way it is – and it has been for years. Why change it now?”

How can you expect to innovate a few times a year with a company filled with workers that don’t believe in practicing innovating with the tools they use, the environment they are use to, and the way they interact with one another on a daily basis? How would a superbowl NFL coach react to an athlete that would rather just run his usual drills when asked to try something new? You can’t expect a company of employees resistant to change or improve HOW they work to then all of a sudden change how a company or the world around them works, can you? It all relates – like the seeds in a root of a blossoming flower. (Sorry, probably too dainty an analogy for a football heavy post, huh?)

Furthermore, just like with football it won’t work with one star player or one small group embracing this ideal. Use the best tools, challenge the old ideas, and try out new processes when you get the opportunity. The more the WHOLE company pushes and adopts an ever changing, improving, and growing daily work life the more that company will get a shot at the innovation ring.

Happy Super Bowl Weekend to all those out there wanting to be their best every chance they get!

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