For heaven’s sake, just do it

Not everyone liked Stanley Kubrick’s perspective on life. Regarded as one of America’s greatest film-makers, his works ranged from black comedy to war, from science fiction to horror (recall Jack Nicholson’s menacing leer in The Shining). The late director was controversial, demanding, creative and prolific. His advice to aspiring auteurs: “Get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.” Like Nike, his advice was “Just do it”. Innovation, too, is about just doing it. Countless organisations talk about it; some even go so far as to add it to their list of core values. “Regardless of this increase in awareness and commitment, they are still not very good at it,” says innovation researcher, Tim Kastelle. “The whole point of trying to manage innovation is to make your firm more effective at actually executing ideas.” Jeffrey Phillips is the author of Relentless Innovation and one of the global innovation community’s most highly regarded bloggers. “I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Phillips wrote recently. “Doing innovation isn’t all that hard, once you get the hang of it… That is, if you can get started.” The barriers are legion, from budgets and priorities to inertia, a lack of focus and short-term thinking. One of the biggest obstacles: distraction. “Innovation is important, but rarely urgent,” Phillips explains. “The urgent stuff constantly creeps in to disrupt the important.  An executive meeting scheduled for January to approve an innovation project was pushed off to March due to other priorities.  Funding for an innovation team was held up due to a poor quarter.  Simply getting started … is a monumental task.” However, as Chinese scholar Lao Tzu advised, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Once started, Phillips says, innovation becomes an irresistible force. “That’s not to say there aren’t resisters along the way,” he cautions, “but as people gain skills and insights, and get to create new things of value, innovation can take on a life of its own.”

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