September is Self-Improvement Month, and that’s certainly something that should be encouraged. But the concept of self-improvement is a bit of a misnomer because it implies that it’s all about you. Improving yourself does not happen in isolation; you help yourself by becoming involved with other people…by seeking inspiration and input from one or more outside sources. On the surface, that might seem contrary to the entrepreneurial, innovative attitude of eschewing the status quo, outdistancing the competition and conquering the world. But closer inspection reveals that enlisting help demonstrates three of the key characteristics of a true innovator.
1. YOU’RE WILLING TO LISTEN
Customer-driven innovation via crowdsourcing, crowd-solving, consumer research, or social media can quickly put your business on the path to growth―but only if you value that sort of input. No one is better than your customers at telling you what they want and need from you, but if you can’t get beyond your own expertise and continue to think you have all the answers, those invaluable voices and opinions will be akin to the proverbial trees that fall in the forest. You have to hear them in order for them to be a benefit to your bottom line.
2. YOU’RE ACCEPTING OF DIVERSITY
Having a united front is important for any business, but ignoring the varied backgrounds and opinions of others in your organization is actually counterproductive to unity. Diversity programs, employee feedback mechanisms, innovation reward programs, brainstorming and/or simulation activities―these are among the methods innovative companies use to progress and grow while empowering their employees and making them feel involved in that “onward and upward” trajectory. As they say in France, Vive la Différence!
3. YOU’RE OPEN TO COLLABORATION
Even companies that put a high value on their customers and employees hit growth plateaus. In those cases, a voice from outside your immediate orbit can be invaluable. Enlisting the services of a consulting firm like RE:INVENTION, from our CxO For a Day to something more long-term, can be the exact cure for what’s ailing your organization in the areas of operations, marketing, finance, technology or systems. Outside influence doesn’t have to compromise your internal principles, and in fact it can be a stepping stone to greater success. If you’ve never done it before, try collaborating. Even if it’s just for a day. The innovator in you will be glad you did.
Not sure how you’re doing in these areas? Take the RE:INVENTION Diagnostic Test to get a better idea. Then dedicate yourself to celebrating Self-Improvement Month by putting less emphasis on the “Self” part. If you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much of the “Improvement” part your business will experience.