How to Be an Innovator, Part 22: Ask the Right Questions
How to Be an Innovator is an original series by Creative Perch. In the last post in this series, we looked how reinventing an old medium can fulfill a market niche in a way that wasn’t possible before. This week we’ll look at how sometimes finding the right solutions starts with learning to ask the right questions.
Part 22: Ask the Right Questions
When an opportunity for innovation and creativity arises, it usually means there is a problem or challenge that must be tackled. At first, the prospect can be a bit daunting, but then as one begins the process of mentally wrapping one’s mind around the project, beginning the process of solving the challenge comes down to a single question: “Where to start?”
The Wrong Questions
It is really easy to become so tied into or wrapped up in a project that one loses perspective. Then, when it comes down to creating a solution, it is even easier to start off on the wrong foot by asking the wrong questions:
- Whose fault is this?
- How will we ever get through this?
- Why did we ever decide to do this in the first place?
Many times, these questions lead to the very unproductive, damaging habit of shifting blame. Instead of even starting down that road, get down to the business of creating an innovating by learning to ask the right questions.
Start with the History
Knowing the right kinds of questions to ask begins with how you arrived at the problem in the first place. Is it the result of an idea failure? Is it a new, unforeseen challenge? Is it the result of a change in politics, economics, trends, or the marketplace? Create a background for problem-solving by first establishing how you got to where you are.
Create a Vision of the Future
After you’ve established where you are and how you got there, work with your team to establish a vision of where you’d like to be. Call it goal setting or vision casting or creating a mission statement or whatever – you need to have a destination in mind.
Getting from Here to There
The next part is the hardest part – creating a roadmap to get you from where you are to where you want to be. To get a clearer picture of where here is, I usually start with a SWOT analysis.
Then, I use this analysis to create my roadmap. I build to my strengths, work on my weaknesses (by adding members to the team, building my skill set, or otherwise addressing problem areas), expand and explore opportunities, and look for ways to out-innovate threats (either by creating a new market, a new niche by building on original ideas).
Innovation is all about the journey from where one is to where one is going – and what new frontiers are created in the process. Set yourself up for success by getting off on the right foot and asking the right questions. There is no better way to create a roadmap for the future.