Personal Innovation: Igniting Dreams, Passions, Careers and Social Impact

Innovation and then some more - that is the path that every single organization has taken in order to propel itself to new heights of growth. As the landscape changes, the business world has started focusing on key concepts that can make a long-term impact. Innovation is one of the most widely used concepts, which has also been proactively applied in an organizational context. It has now taken a new shape in terms of application. In current times, we are now evaluating what is Personal Innovation and the manner in which it helps an individual to feel fulfilled in his or her personal as well as professional life.

Personal Innovation is primarily about using the principles of innovation and adapting them to one’s personal and professional life. Just as it is for organizations, an individual’s personal growth shows crests and troughs. There are phases when he or she is driven towards learning and innovating existing skills and attributes. Those are followed by stages where an impetus is needed to move to the next level of success because stagnation has set in. That impetus and mental stimulation, comes in the form of Innovation.

So incorporating principles of innovation makes eminent sense. While there are many approaches to innovation, the 9 Principles of Innovation by Google are extremely comprehensive and can be leveraged in our personal and professional lives. We can have a comprehensive roadmap for our dreams, passions, careers and to create larger social impact. Our Personal Innovation strategy is the way we live our life every day, day on day. Therefore, having a broad set of goals across all segments that define our life and work, as well as deconstructed goals for the short, mid and long term are what will enable us to achieve the full potential of our dreams.

Here is how we can go about the same –

1.     Innovation can come from anywhere or anyone – The source of innovation can be anyone or any section of the organization. As an individual, this will translate into how you can actually find the inspiration to innovate in any situation in your life. It could be a small home-based chore or a project based task. You can innovate to make yourself more efficient at either.

2.   Focus on the user – The user is the driver for all innovation. In your personal strategy, you are the user and your requirement or what you want to achievement at a personal and professional level should be the defining factors for your goals.

3.   Focus on 10x and not 10 percent – When you work out the difference that your personal innovation strategy should make your life, your vision should be that of the improvement being 10 times and not just 10%. While at the organization’s level identifying this is easy, at an individual level, it is far more difficult to define how this amount will get translated into a tangible one. What this actually means is that one needs to think of exponential or significant positive impact. This principle focuses on how to achieve incremental innovation.    

4.   Leverage your uniqueness – Innovation is about finding a niche and continuing to better yourself in that space. So each individual who aims for personal innovation should first introspect about his or her specific strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. After that, identifying which are special to them and then sharpening those skills or attributes is what is needed. The uniqueness is what defines an individual’s parameters for success because that is what provides him or her with the kind of competitive advantage that sets them apart.

5.    Launch and iterate -  One needs to remember that just as one process of innovation does not make a product perfect in the first time itself, similarly a person needs to undergo many iterations before he or she is able to harness the potential of their personal innovation strategy. Therefore, one must not wait to apply their innovation strategy. Being proactive and moving ahead with the goals as soon as the strategy is ready is important. We need to be agile and flexible to change or revisit those goals based on what kind of results start showing up. Having the receptiveness to change with iterative feedback or observation of results is the key to achieving success in this strategy.

6.   20% Time – Your innovative spirit needs to be nurtured. So allocating 20% of your time on a regular basis, is what will help you keep the momentum. Defining when and how you want to do it each day has a long-term, deep-seated impact, on what you are able to achieve finally. So time allocation in a consistent manner is what will ensure that you remain on track with respect to your dreams as well as desire to continually innovate and grow yourself.

7.    Being open – We are sometimes so inward-focused that we do not take inputs for our personal or professional goals from those around us. In order to innovate for the betterment of our personal and professional lives, we need to take ideas and inputs from our external environment and network as well. While an individual knows his or her own strengths and what they want, being open to more ideas means being able to expand the horizon of one’s thought process.

8.   Fail well – Being closely linked to your own strategy of development and growth has the flipside of being unable to accept failure. You might have defined goals that you think are best. But even the best of plans and goals fair. So learning how to accept failure is the key. Personal innovation strategies are not fool-proof either, no matter how well-thought through they might be. Failing well is a sign of being committed and perseverance.

9.   Have a mission that matters - Do you have a clear sense of purpose and a mission that defines your strategy for yourself? For example, you might want to explore a new hobby on the personal front and a new expertise area on the professional front. Both are equally important for you to innovate yourself and therefore defining this mission is what will enable you to further create measurable goals.

While the onus for personal innovation will lie with the individual, organizations and their HR teams can make a significant contribution to this. Individuals who receive this kind of support are more likely to dedicate time and effort towards Personal Innovation, and that in turn can have a positive impact on the organization.

Some of the ways in which this can be done are –

●  Having a strong professional development plan and a learning culture.

●  Ensuring that individuals take onus of understanding their expertise gaps and how to close those.

●  Making innovation on the professional front a key metric on the performance parameters.

●  Sensitizing leaders to understand the importance of personal innovation.

●  Defining corporate values that recognize how an individual focuses on innovating himself or herself.

●  Creating an environment that supports work-life balance and encourages the individuals to focus on the personal front for their innovation.

Join us at the SHRMiAC’17 to explore ways of constantly innovating yourself and leveraging your own sphere of influence to succeed.


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