Yes, it’s a contest. A contest you want to win.
Here are the rules:
Stop being ordinary. Stop using last year’s ideas. Stop having boring meetings. Stop questioning your gut.
What does the winner of this contest get? More visibility. More employee buy-in. More customers.
How do you enter this contest?
You agree to throw away the 20th century thinking that says you have any control over your brand. You agree to throw away ideas that aren’t challenging. You agree to throw ancient ideas about ROI out the window, along with the outdated cubicles of yesteryear. You recognize that the feeling in your gut isn’t fear, it’s excitement.
In place of 20th century thinking, bring in people who aren’t afraid to try and fail. Your brand needs to be strong enough to rise out of the ashes of a mean twitter comment or Facebook post. Sir Kenneth Robinson says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Embrace that kind of thinking.
In place of ideas that aren’t challenging, take a day to visit a preschool. Introduce yourself. Tell them what you do. Ask them to draw a picture of what you just described. Take their drawings back to your office and marvel at them, until you and your team come up with something so new, so outrageous, so innovative, even you can’t believe it.
In place of ROI begin planning for return on engagement. Engagement is part of the business world being shaped by social media. We’re told that Facebook is going to take over the world, something we used to think Google was going to do. Both are tools of engagement (yes, search is a form of engagement), and both rely on participation by real people – someone clicking the keyboard of a computer or a phone. Using engagement, you can begin to understand the value of a customer, as opposed to the value of a number someone grabbed out of a chart they made after crunching other numbers to make them seem valuable. Gobbledygook, that’s what that is.
Now that you’ve gained entry in the contest, you might wonder, how do you win? I’m glad you asked. All you have to do is… be innovative.
Why are you scratching your head? What’s wrong? Is being innovative hard? Too much of a challenge? Too vague?
Good. It should be. Innovation is all of that and more. It’s in the vague spaces of trying to understand innovation, that innovation gets its power. It’s in the twists and turns of the puzzle we call innovation that you will be most challenged. It’s as hard as anything you have ever attempted – maybe harder. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be real.
If you can learn to listen – especially to your customers; if you can inspire people to draw pictures of music; if you can paint pictures of what a four-month old is thinking as she chews on a new toy and the color of fun, you might begin to be innovative. If you can understand the feeling of communication, going beyond the sound of it, the smell of it, the thought of it, dipping your toe into the way it feels on your skin, on your eyes, on your elbows, you might begin to be innovative. Because by then, you might actually let your imagination loose – and there is no innovation with imagination.
Lastly, remember this – humor trumps everything else. Be funny. Think funny. Share funny. Now, that’s innovative. Funny, how it works out that way.
Ready? Set? Okay, go…