176. Getting sh*t done: one of the underestimated secret sauces in innovation

Earlier today, I found this comment on a post I’d made on Linkedin. It made me not only very happy – especially coming from Todd, who is a guy I both like and admire – but also quite curious. It made me ask myself a question.

“How many people realise that part of being a succesful innovator is the simple act of getting sh*t done?”

Not enough, I think.

Looking at innovation from a theoretical standpoint, almost everyone accepts the fact that innovation involves a ton of trial-and-error.

We’ve heard about Edison and the 10,000 light bulbs (or however many it was – accounts differ) and we’ve read the articles and the blog posts and the biographies of superstar innovators who talk about their many failures.

But in my experience, most people don’t really get it. Or rather, they do, but they don’t get a key part of it.

And that part is the one about getting sh*t done.

Because while there are many ways to become more creative, more innovative and more fresh in your thinking (notice how those three things mean more or less the same?), one of the simplest ones is to simply do more.

One solid creative approach to getting new ideas is to throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks, and then curating and synthesizing afterwards.

When using that technique, more is (often) better. Whether you need a new product name, a changed production line setup or a hand signal for silence in your meetings, at this stage of the game more is more.

So if you can train yourself to be the one who puts ten post-its on the wall while others put three, you may increase the number of discard ideas, but you also generally end up with more useful ideas overall.

The trick is to stop counting the possibles and focus on the realised instead.

A newly wed couple doesn’t care how many photos their wedding photographer took and didn’t show them. They care about the ones they get to see.

It’s tempting to count the number of “failures” in one’s life. Applications that got rejected. People, who said no. Things that didn’t work out as planned.

But just like most venture capitalists bet on many horses and hope one delivers a massive payoff, innovation isn’t about being afraid of failure – it’s about sowing the seeds of success.

And what does all this have to do with productivity and with Todd’s comment about me?

Everything.

“Getting sh*t done” is partly about skill and time and resources. But in many cases, it’s about deciding to. About saying “This is good enough. Let’s let it out into the world and see what happens.”

And if you make a habit of pushing things into the world, some of them are going to be received well. If you throw enough things at the wall – and your stuff has at least some value to it – then sooner or later, something will stick!

That’s the nice thing about secret sauces.

They can be quite sticky and if you hit the wall with enough power to smash the bottle they come in, you’re on the right track.

And if in doubt?

Just use more secret sauce!

Claus Raasted is an Innovation Strategist, and recently wrote “The Innovation Cycle”. He serves as the Director of the College of Extraordinary Experiences, is a Coach at McKinsey & Company and is a founding partner at the Global Institute For Thought Leadership. He also has a past in reality TV, but these days, who hasn’t?

www.clausraasted.com

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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