Retail Observer

March 2019

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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MARCH 2019 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 47 For the past 25 years, Steve has served as an advisor and consultant on brand strategy, organizational life, and humanized marketing strategy. He has worked with companies such as Samsung, Habitat for Humanity, New Balance, Sony, LG, Amazon, NFL and MLB franchises and is a regular speaker for TEDx, Creative Mornings, CES, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, American Marketing Association, and AIGA conferences. Steve has published two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, as well as a forthcoming book, The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand. He has been featured in Business Week, Brand Week, Ad Age, Conscious Company Magazine, MarketingProfs, and HOW magazines. Steve leads his own brand and business strategic consultancy, Mth Degree. Contact:, 619-234-1211 or RO Real innovation isn't easy. It takes deep noticing, plus grit, unrelenting curiosity, experimental hard work, ingenious creative thinking, and most particularly, a hefty supply of courage. The reason courage is a linchpin ingredient for innovators is that genuine innovation takes us out of our comfort zone. It plunges us deep in a soupy sea of doubts: "This might not work..." It's a land of uncertainty where entrepreneurs are "comfortably uncomfortable." Innovative leaders learn to live in that realm of uncertainty, to breathe the thin air, trusting their hearts, guts, and intuition while they exercise the visionary fortitude to reach the other side. THE INNOVATOR'S PARADOX It's just about impossible to access our creative thinking capacity when we're deeply threatened, over-stressed and in crisis. The hitch is that if we stay wrapped in the safe blanket of our comfort zone we'll be bored, but without risk no real innovation ever happens. It's a feature of our wiring as human beings that the thought of moving the world forward by our creative powers is exciting. At the same time, we crave safety and security. We're most relaxed when our world isn't changing, but we feel most alive when it is. Our insights, fears, doubts, and intuition all feed into the process of innovating. Before something completely new can be born, we must commit to a roller-coaster ride of exploration, questioning, intuition – and doubts. For creative people in every field – innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, creators – there are a few key factors that it's wise to keep in mind. First, one of the chief beauties of innovation is that it's an unlimited resource that anyone can access. Second, choosing the path of innovation in our work and our lives means choosing curiosity over fear. We choose a flexible, open, courageous way of living and working that opens new worlds of fresh solutions and fresh ways of seeing. Third, choosing the path of curiosity means we've chosen to work wholeheartedly. And there's no better remedy for disengagement and burnout than a heart that's open, enthus- iastic, and engaged. Innovators, creators, artists and forward-thinking entrepreneurs live in a world of endless possibilities. Creative people actively seek surprise. And here's another paradox. The upside of seeking surprising solutions is that we're actively courting a sense of wonder. The risk is that too much surprise can make us anxious. It's a tradeoff that requires a strong sense of balance. Too much surprise = anxious; too little surprise = bored and disengaged. Innovators welcome surprise. Creative people look at the world with curious eyes. They talk to strangers and want to meet people who are unlike them. They travel to new places and ask new questions, even questions that don't have easy answers. They choose to live a wholehearted life and let their curiosity guide their work, flying high above any fears that might be involved. So, how do you create innovators on your team? Here are some tips: • Reward the risk-takers. Remind your team that taking risks and innovating is the quickest path to future profits. By developing creative value-added products, services and approaches, you're starting to shape the future of your company and brand. • Encourage a culture of curiosity. By practicing "beginner's mind" you'll increase your options for seeing your products, services, and customers in new ways, through the lens of creative opportunity. • Fail quickly – fail smartly. Taking risks and innovating means that from time to time you will surely fail. Learning your lessons quickly and applying the wisdom gained to drive your next round of innovations will accelerate your success.

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