It has happened far too many times, that as an agency we are asked the question – why reinvention? Why not invention? Which is a very good and valid question, especially in a world where innovation is perpetually the buzz word.
Just by taking a glance at the news, you can quickly catch at least few stories that tell of innovation. You look at the words of politicians or CEOs, answering difficult questions, and innovation is the go-to solution to perhaps every question today.
Remember now, the beauty pageant day, world peace, was the solution for nearly every question when you ask a potential beauty queen – what do you want? What is your biggest dream? They would all answer world peace. Well, innovation is the equivalent to that in the business world. Whatever question you ask – the solution is innovation. If that is the case, why do we not use innovation, and why have we picked on the word reinvention for our work?
That is of course, not by accident. We have spent long periods of time in the history of business and in the modern history of the development of the intellectual mind, just well enough time in making innovation almost the untouchable ideal.
One of the most accepted theories of innovation was developed back in 1962 – imagine that – by professor Rogers, more than 55 years ago, and already then, for 55 years, we are teaching the same thing, only 2.5% of the world population are innovators.
If you enter a meeting, only 2.5% are able to innovate. Enter a company – again, only 2.5% can innovate. So, this is an idea that from the very beginning has introduced that very tiny percent of us are innovators. As well as there is a very small percentage, just above 13% who are early adaptors – people who do not innovate themselves but are willing to test innovations developed by those very few innovators among them. This theory, for very many decades, has been telling us that very few of us can innovate – that is a rare occurrence and a rare talent, almost an impossible ideal.
If we also take a look at the dictionary, if we take on the common use of the theory of innovation, the essence of that common news is the ideal of novelty. The idea that you need to introduce something really remarkably disruptively novel, and that is a very tall order, a kind of criteria, a requirement, or benchmark, that is almost impossible for anyone of us to get.
Imagine we give you an assignment, that your job in the next two days, or next two hours, is to develop an entirely novel, completely new way to transport goods of about 5 kilos or 10 pounds, from point A to point B. According to 2.5% theory, only a few of you are to start drawing, imagining, or starting any innovation process, while a vast majority will be almost completely frozen by the idea. You are frozen because this is a very tall order to come up with something so breakthrough and so new.
However, let us take on one more assignment. Take your backpack and imagine one thing you can improve on it. That is the difference between innovation and reinvention.
Innovation frames the challenge as this disruptive and impossible ideal, while reinvention suggests that what you already have and try to improve it, even if you improve it just a little bit, it’s fine. That means it is becoming a better offering, a better solution, and that way, reinvention is a way to deal with change, to deal with new exciting, sometimes painful demands from the external world, but do those solutions in a more accessible way, a more possible one. Many of us can imagine improving only one thing on that backpack. Very few of us can come up with a totally new transportation device for 5 kilos or 10 pounds.
The assignment tells us when the challenge is positioned in a different way, we are prone to making newness and embrace novelty. We change our reaction to change, through a more approachable way for vaster populations.
It is the same when we work with companies – once we suggest doing some innovative work, to invent something, a majority of people check out, because for many years, for most of their lives, people deemed that was an impossible ordeal.
Suggest let’s reinvent something – we all know very well. Let us improve one thing, or let’s see what is the best possible core competency or core area of that solution and its core value, to have it improved a little bit, find a new use – people seem to be much easier and find the way far more approachable.
Hence, here is a challenge for your life. Think of one area you are facing significant challenges right now – it can be your work environment (maybe your meetings are not doing very well), your product line (it is not performing the way you want), or a personal relationship back at work or within your family (your mother is still calling you ten times a day to ask whether you had something to eat today), then, find one thing you can do better about that. Just one thing that could be possibly improved, reinvented. You do not need to think about a breakthrough, you just need to think of one small improvement that could inch that product or relationship forward.
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p.s.: In case you didn’t have the time to watch our first video, here is the link: Chief Reinvention Officer: why this new job (and life) title is for you