I studied neuroscience to discover the three big reasons why your business innovation fails. Learn the three things stopping you from being successful and nine things to do instead.
Neuroscience and Business Innovation
Gregory Berns is a neuroscientist. He wrote a great book about the neuroscience of personal innovation called Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently. I loved this book so much, I wrote a book summary of it when I was writing Book Rapper.
In his book, Berns asked the question: What makes some innovators so successful? And so rare? He proposed 3 reasons why innovation fails.
Business Innovation Fail 1
“I’ve only published a couple of videos lately – 3 in 2 months. That’s not good enough. I need to get another video up. But what should I create a video about? And how can I make it better than the last one? I need some fresh ideas.”
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
The bad news is that you have a lazy brain. Yes, you. And this is why your innovation fails. The good news is that we all suffer in the same way.
Our brains are like a V8 car engine. They use a lot of fuel. And to save energy our brains take shortcuts. One shortcut our brains take is to see things as being similar. That’s why we make presumptions and assumptions. Most of the time this is really helpful. But not when it comes to innovation. We say things like:
- That’s how we do things around here.
- If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it
It’s also why you drink the same coffee every day. And probably have the same breakfast and lunch and… We’re creatures of habit because our brains are lazy.
To save energy our brains dish up the same thoughts every day. And if you think the same way every day you get the same thoughts every day. No surprise there.
To do things differently – to innovate – you have to see things differently. But how do you do this?
Three Actions for Fresh Thinking
To have a new idea you must have a new awareness or a new experience. Here are three simple ways to do this.
- Change Environments: Travelling to a foreign country or even a new coffee shop or walking a different way to work heightens our awareness of even the little things in life. The things we take for granted may no longer be so.
- Meet new people: If each of us sees the world differently, it pays to hang out with new and different people. But only as long as we’re willing to consider their viewpoints.
- Do things differently: Changing your method changes your perception of the task. For instance, use chopsticks instead of a knife and fork. Or swap your computer for a pen and paper.
Business Innovation Fail 2
“I’ve got this great idea for a video. But I’m not sure if it is good enough. I’m not sure if it people will like it. And I’m not really sure how to do it either.”
When we see things for the first time or hear new ideas – we get scared. Is it safe? Should I run? Should I fight?
It’s a survival mechanism. While we don’t live in the jungle anymore, it’s a survival mechanism that’s hard-wired into our brains. It’s natural and we all experience in different ways in different situations.
That’s why we get scared of people who are different to us, ideas we’ve never seen before and food we’ve never tasted before. How many times have you heard people say they haven’t don’t like a certain food even when they haven’t tasted it?
Three Actions to Conquer Your Fear
Here are three things you can do to conquer your fear of something new
- Notice and acknowledge your fear: What’s your emotional response? What are you feeling right now? Is it stress, concern, overwhelm, a lack of confidence, out of your depth or concern?
- Name your fear: Is it a fear of failure – what if I get this wrong? Is it a fear of the unknown – I don’t know how to do this? Is it fear of social exclusion or rejection – what will other people think? This is why groupthink is so common and so dangerous – we’re social creatures and sharing new ideas is risky in the court of public opinion.
- Next step only: Trying to plan the future is filled with risk and uncertainty. None of us know what will happen. Remember how Covid and the pandemic changed everything? While you can’t know what will happen further down the track, you can choose what will happen next. And this will help manage your fear of uncertainty.
Business Innovation Fail 3
“I’ve now published over 100 videos on YouTube over the past 2 years. But, my results are really ordinary. After almost 2000 hours of effort I’ve only attracted 15,000 views. I’ve been waiting for YouTube to promote my work but it hasn’t happened yet. My fingers are still crossed. It might still happen.”
Picasso was a millionaire by the age of 27 When he died his estate was worth $750 million. Yep, $750,000,000. In contrast, Van Gogh sold a single painting in his lifetime and died penniless.
Are you passive in sharing your ideas? Or worse, are you silent? Or do you shout from the rooftops – look at this. If you can’t sell your idea, it dies.
The key to selling your ideas is to do what your brain does. Our brain literally learns by making connections. We connect one dendrite to the next. To sell your idea, adopt the same approach – build a bridge between what people know to your idea until they see the world as you do.
Three Actions to Better Sell Your Ideas
Here are three things you can do to better sell your ideas
- Use a metaphor: This is a great way to connect an unknown idea to something people already know. Can you spot the metaphors I’ve used in this blog post? For instance, ‘your brain is like a V8 engine’ and ‘build a bridge to connect new ideas to familiar ones’.
- Build Your Brand: Familiarity is hardwired into the brain. It’s one way that our lazy brains prefer because it doesn’t take a lot of effort. And you can be familiar by showing up often and building a recognizable brand.
- Be Distinctive – Be courageous enough to show up as the individual you are – and people will more likely accept your new ideas. Plus, it gives you a licence to share interesting and daring ideas.
More on Overcoming Your Business Innovation Roadblocks
if you want to become a better innovator, share this video with your clients and colleagues and start a conversation.
This is the first in a four-part series. I’m producing a full post and video on each of the three innovation roadblocks. In the meantime, here are three more posts on business innovation to devour:
- Thought Leadership: Five Ways to Create Cutting-Edge Content
- The dirty big difference between vision and mission
- What’s a Manifesto? – Three-Part Manifesto Definition
And here is your chance to put your courage to the test – add a comment below and tell me what you think of this post – the good, the bad and the gracious.