A Time For Innovation

January 21st, 2009

thinking_out_of_the_box“Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.”

– President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech
January 20, 2009

Among the many eloquent words spoken at yesterday’s inauguration events, these stood out for me.  As an entrepreneur and a career coach who sees the challenges of the current economy up close every day, I know it’s tough out there right now. But that doesn’t mean that opportunities don’t exist.

In fact, it’s more important than ever before to tap into your creativity and get innovative.  Most of the people I speak with these days are counting on President Obama and his administration to lead innovatively. Government as usual certainly hasn’t been working.

For entrepreneurs and job hunters, innovative thinking may be your only hope for thriving during the downturn. In the February issue of Entrepreneur, there’s a great article that highlights an intriguing pattern: some of the most innovative ideas in history have emerged during tough economic times. These breakthroughs include the transistor radio, the pacemarker, McDonald’s, Microsoft,  Diet Coke, Prozac, and the iPod. [Note: The article doesn't seem to be on the Entrepreneur web site just yet, but it's worth picking up the February issue to check out]

The article goes on to outline some tips for thinking more innovatively. My friend Lisa Bodell, founder of the innovation consulting firm futurethink, also has some great innovation resources. Futurethink’s specialty is practical innovation. Take a look at their free diagnostic tool to see how well your company is innovating today and their free starter kit for tips on where to start improving.

And finally, one more piece of encouraging news. Even though consumer confidence is at a depressing low, Forbes says people are still spending money on some things.  We’re still buying SmartPhones, videogames, gym memberships, personal care products, toy building sets, car maintenance, sensible shoes, fast food, and movie tickets. Could the demand for these items represent opportunity for your company? Maybe right now is your chance to launch one of the great innovations of tomorrow.

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1 Comment

I’ve noticed that the awareness of the value of learning new skills is a topic in the news currently, and a topic of conversation in the lunchroom at work. Online women business sites are also offering professional development tracks. President Obama’s speech spoke to the ability for each of us to actively make creative changes to improve our lives. It was a wonderful speech.

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