Self-innovation: Finding your own innovation curve

Innovation is a well-used buzz-word in businesses all over the world.  Those that do it successfully are able to create fantastic new products, develop better connections and form new markets and opportunities.  This doesn't happen by itself though - at the heart of every innovation in every business are people who choose to make it happen.  So, if people can do it for their businesses why can't they innovate themselves?

"...if as an individual you’ve reached a plateau or you suspect you won’t be happy at the top rung of the ladder you’re climbing, you should disrupt yourself for the same reasons that companies must." - Whitney Johnston, HBR.

Experts like the acclaimed author and leading management thinker, Whitney Johnston, have written about Personal Disruption and how we can create wonderful career changes for ourselves by applying innovation techniques.  Mostly this focuses on creating big personal jumps by leveraging the skills we currently have and by exposing ourselves to situations where we need to level up and get creative around the skills we don't.  I agree with all of this and have benefited from a couple of directional shifts in my own career - each time I've come out stronger and more able (and more employable).  I've also gone through seismic shifts in my personal life, like becoming a father for the first time, that meant I had to adapt and learn in ways that I had never been exposed to.  More on my own approach a little later.

This may all sound like it's only suitable for those people who are super career minded and who want to take an extreme approach to self-innovation.  My view is that anybody can benefit from taking this type of approach and, through, I want to help as many people as possible create angles and opportunities to improve their career or lifestyle (or both).

If that sounds like it's not for you then let me put it this way - have you ever learned to ride a bike or to drive a car?  Do you remember how it felt?  At first you found it difficult, you kept making mistakes or just couldn't get the hang of it.  But, after enough practice, after a concentrated period of focus and probably some help from others, you managed to crack it.  All of a sudden you were riding that bike or driving that car like you had been doing it all of your life.  You may not have known it at the time but you were going through your own form of personal disruption... a learning curve that made you better.

"Our hypothesis is that those who can successfully navigate, even harness, the successive cycles of learning and maxing out that resemble the S-curve will thrive in this era of personal disruption." - Mendez Garcia / Johnston, HBR.

In terms of my own experience of this, in March 2015 I entered into a period of intense personal disruption.  I was leading a high profile project at work that involved 7 weeks of creative thinking, directing a distributed group based all over Europe, taking a new product from concept to launch and finding new ways of working with talented people from multiple disciplines.  At the same time, I started Seth Godin's altMBA - a fantastic, immersive course for leaders based all over the globe.  We delivered 14 projects in 4 weeks, we used tech like Zoom, WordPress and Slack to create, collaborate and ship and we threw ourselves into leveling-up in a process that I would describe as a kind of altitude training for the brain and the being.  During this crazy month, I became more aware of and researched further the concept of self-innovation or creating your own individual innovation or s-curve.  I grew utterly convinced that more people could benefit from understanding the possibilities.  Of course, at the same time, I was going through multiple innovation or s-curves of my own and I found that applying this model helped me and the people around me when I talked to them about it.

I launched because I want to write to encourage others to make the leap and to create their own form of positive disruption. That might be through making big career moves, starting their own businesses or simply learning new creative skills.  On the altMBA we learned to 'do the hard part first', 'dance with fear' and 'start a ruckus' and I'll be riffing on these lessons a lot.

Have I got you interested? I'm hoping so.

If you want to start your own journey then here are some ideas to set you on your way...

Firstly, check out this post on goal setting.  After all, you can't innovate yourself without knowing what you want to achieve.

Or maybe check out my growing resources section.  Here you'll find some inspiring books, interesting videos and a load of links to relevant brain food.

Finally, you could sign up to my (fairly) regular newsletter The Boilermaker where I'll bookmark what has inspired me or caught my eye - I promise to keep it short, smart and a wee bit quirky.