Last year was great time for IXL Center and the companies we partnered with. In 2017, we helped hundreds of organizations, large and small, to find their own paths towards 10x growth through innovation. And because this success was based on the work of people collaborating in teams large and small, I sometimes pondered how the innovation lessons we teach to companies might also be applied to the personal growth of individuals. Last year, our tools helped to generate millions of dollars in new purchase orders and hundreds of unexpected partnerships and new paths. Perhaps, they can also help you look at things differently and capture more value from your life in 2018?
To answer this line of inquiry, I have compiled five IXL Center innovation techniques and tools that could be useful in your own pursuit of personal 10x growth:
1. Get more and better dots: Those who have more and better dots are able to see the bigger picture and connect those dots better. For companies, this means diverging and looking beyond their own sandbox to collect those dots. For you, this means taking the time – during the holidays as well as throughout the whole year – to listen more to those around you, allowing yourself to read and observe more outside of your usual social and news feeds. Before diving into your 2018 resolutions, talk to your family and friends and get unstuck from the biases you picked up in 2017.
2. Connect, disconnect, and reconnect the dots: The beginning of a new year is a time reflection, which is an often undervalued skill. Based on our observations across hundreds of organizations, we’ve learned that people often opt for the quickest and most obvious solutions to the problems they face. In contrast, successful innovation results from having the time and discipline to question those first choices, which allows you to search for ways to connect the dots differently. For instance, if you are thinking about making a big change in your career in the new year, make sure you don’t simply consider the obvious industries, functions and rewards. Take the time to think about the fundamental pieces of what you do and what you are passionate about. In short, what are your needs beyond the usual suspects of prestige and comp?
3. Price iteration and the unexpected into your plans: Innovation, like personal growth, isn’t a straight line. When we ask executives to draw the path from A to B in an innovation process, we get straight lines, steps, or logarithmic functions. In reality, the path of innovation often looks like squiggly lines drawn by a toddler. The path to growth, like innovation, is full of unexpected turns and setbacks, which requires you to be flexible and be ready to iterate on your initial plan to achieve the goal. Many times, the planned goal isn’t what you expected and you discover that there is something even more exciting and interesting than you had planned. Remain open to the unexpected and you will do much better. Companies in our program that iterate on their plans more than 5 times are 82% more likely to get a purchase order by the end. Let me know how many times you iterate on your plans in 2018 and how well you do. Maybe this time next year we can do a nice study around this!
4. Make your ideas bigger: In organizations, we always urge teams to make their innovation concepts bigger. For instance, when a company proposes to sell their new product to a local client in Colombia, we ask them how they can sell it to the entire United States. When a client claims that they can charge a one-time fee of $200, we ask them how they can charge $200 every year from those same clients through other means and business models. You get the idea. We do this for 2 main reasons. 1) It is much easier to get teams and organizations excited and willing to invest around big ideas, and 2) organizations and partners tend to chip away at ideas to “de-risk” them along the way, making them tiny fractions of what they were in their initial glory by the time they get to market. This is the organizational equivalent of the famous quote: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I can’t emphasize how important this is for organizations to build momentum and impact. For you, make sure your plans or goals are big and exciting! Otherwise, how can you expect to gather up the energy and resources to see it through?
5. Use partners to go fast and reduce risk: Companies that focus on generating alliances are 70% more likely to generate purchase orders by the end of our 10x SME program. As you make your plans for 2018, think about the friends or organizations that could help you and share the burden and, of course, the rewards. In 2016, I made a resolution to lose weight, but it’s tough going at it alone. I created a WhatsApp group called WhatsFat with some friends where we reported our weights biweekly in a competition to achieve our own weight loss goals. It was a resounding success and very entertaining.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone at IXL Center, Global Innovation Management Institute and its members, and all the organizations, and students I have had the honor to work with this year, a happy and prosperous 2018. May all your aspirations (personal and professional) come true 10 times over.
Andre do Valle is a Principal at IXL Center (www.ixl-center.com), a global innovation management firm based out of Cambridge, MA. If you are looking for ways to jumpstart your innovation pipeline, check out the IXL Innovation Olympics (www.ixlcenter.io), the world’s largest innovation consulting challenge where 5 teams of MBA students compete to create breakthrough solutions for sponsors using IXL Center tools and methodologies.