Innovation comes from customers…or so Harvard thinks.
Aha moments rarely come without some sort of problem you are trying to solve and there is no greater ‘problem creators’ than your customers. Twitter is a perfect example of this. They will think of things you never thought of and use your products in ways you’ve never imagined. Learn to harness this phenomenon and you’re on your way to having a more innovative company.
For example, imagine you have a customer who wants software that allows appointments to be setup online. “No one has it” he says, but he wants it. So an innovator would make it, have it made, or find it, and then package it and sell it to other sites. That’s how innovation from the customer makes your company more innovative.
But you have to execute.
It’s easy to create a plan, the hard part is executing it. One trap a lot of companies (people) fall into is creating the structure around innovation or a new project in the hopes that once the structure is in place the new product will almost make itself. “After [that] it’s just ‘plug and chug’,” they say. Executors know that you have to do the plug and chug part too even if that means hiring out or outsourcing to do so. The plug and chug-level work should be a matter of following procedures in a well-defined structure. The creators, designers, and innovators at a company usually like to create the structure, but have trouble filling it in. Either learn to get around this psychological gap or find someone else to finish/maintain the job for you.