OPINION: Innovators see obstacles as a challenge

IF you read business books, participate in workshops or seek advice from a business adviser or coach,  there will always be a ‘‘case study’’, or a ‘‘mention’’ of businesses and organisations doing well, even ‘‘punching above their weight’’.

 They might exemplify a particular tool, process or ethic that has improved productivity or bottom line (or both).

This reinforcement and encouragement gives us the courage to follow our dreams and ideals. Going into business is a brave thing to do – and double the courage is required in a climate of economic uncertainty and change. 

It makes sense then that if we can operate from a point of optimum stress – where the adrenaline is on slow release, giving us regular energy boosts – and harness positive emotions such as trust and belief, we are likely to perform better on cognitively demanding tasks and trigger left brain (logical) and right brain (creative) activity.

Reinforcement and encouragement are game-changers.

In a negative mindset and periods of high stress, the amygdala (which plays a primary role in decision-making and emotional reactions) can take over and prepare the body for crisis. At this point ‘‘gut instinct’’ is often useless and most of our actions are reactions, with very little long-term or strategic planning and thought.

Creatives and innovators never stagnate. And they constantly push forward, rarely considering anything problematic, instead thinking in terms of ‘‘solutions’’. Instead of thinking they’ve hit a brick wall, they think of the challenge that has been presented; instead of giving up, they think of the opportunities adversity presents. The emphasis is on ‘‘think’’.

We are all familiar with the success stories of renowned entrepreneurs and their companies – Facebook, Google, Virgin, Apple, Dyson, Spielberg, Colonel Sanders. We are intrigued and encouraged by their successes. But their failures actually provide us with a more valuable lesson about determination and persistence.

 Dyson reached prototype number 5127 before he hit the bagless vacuum jackpot, Apple started in a garage, and The Body Shop was born out of desperation.

Closer to home, we can consider renegade magazine Collective, which at Issue 10 continues to invigorate readers with stories of successful entrepreneurs, many of them Australian-made. The magazine is the result of entrepreneur Lisa Messenger’s desire to encourage entrepreneurial behaviour and inspire people to follow their dreams.

And there is the BRW Most Innovative Companies List, which has acknowledged 50 Australian companies for their innovative and often collaborative and empowering modi operandi. Examples are Boost Juice, High Tea With Mrs Woo, Mortels Sheepskin Factory and Hummingbird Electronics.

Success is measurable, but not always identified by common indicators. For some, success is defined as an improved bottom line, for others it could be supporting and empowering their workforce to excel, retaining loyal and enthusiastic employees, or ensuring corporate social responsibility.

On Friday next week, SiDCOR Chartered Accountants (another local innovative and entrepreneurial company) will present the BRW Most Innovative Companies Breakfast Event. The philosophy behind bringing executives from these leading organisations to Newcastle is to inspire Hunter businesses and promote ways to embed innovation into workplace culture.

 Information is available at stickytickets.com.au/13689.

Christina Gerakiteys is creative director at Ideation At Work

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