Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Habits of top innovators - getting unstuck

I'm looking for a coach (a business coach that is), and so I reached out to a colleague who is at the top of his game, and he expressed that he too is looking for a mentor. I found this interesting - where do you go for mentoring when you mentor for a living?

Recently I had the pleasure of studying with one of the top bass players in the nation, and I asked him "who do you study with?" It turns out he doesn't study with other bass players - he's learned about all he can from other bassists. Instead he goes to the best sax players, and the best trumpet players, to learn how they approach solos and phrasing, and he interprets and applies that to his bass playing.

What does this have to do with innovation? Bear with me - I'm almost there.

When you think you've plateaued with your product or business, or you're fresh out of new ideas, one of the best ways to break through is to study a different industry. How did a completely different industry tackle similar problems? What can you learn from the trade journals of a different vertical? Let's say you're in software - instead of attending a software event, go sit in on a manufacturers luncheon. Can talking with a product manager at another non-competitive company help you approach things differently? People are usually more than happy to chat with you, or even give you a tour of their facilities if you just ask. Who knows what it can do for your business.

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