There’s a common misconception that all a business needs to do in order to compete in today’s marketplace is innovate. And the fact is, innovation is absolutely essential for fueling long-term growth. But what happens when a business must pivot to creatively address adverse conditions arising in the moment? Can solutions be found that meet today’s challenges while building an infrastructure for successfully exploring tomorrow’s big ideas?
Innovation is actually not the secret sauce for everyday operational success. Why? Because many of the requirements for innovation—new budget, skills, milestone planning, stakeholder buy-in—can hold us back from responding in an agile way with confidence and accuracy.
We are constantly called on to use the resources at hand to meet adversity wherever and whenever it presents itself. Of course, every business’s on-hand resources will differ, but one resource shared by all companies is the opportunity to use ingenuity to swiftly identify obstacles and root them out.
How innovation and ingenuity are related and how they differ
While innovation and ingenuity are close cousins, they aren’t the same. Let’s take a closer look at where they intersect, and what makes them distinct, and some of the circumstances in which one may be more useful to an organization than the other.
What innovation and ingenuity share is simple. Each relies on creativity at its most fundamental level, and each drives change.
That said, innovation is about introducing something new that pushes established frontiers. True innovation is generally research driven and is considered a heavy lift, especially for businesses not built to sustain innovation as a core aspect of their business model—think of the aeronautics and life sciences industries, or a consumer trailblazer like Apple, whose innovations have come to shape our daily lives. Innovation requires a steep investment in time and money and is focused on the future, on ushering in “the new.” Innovation can be disruptive and it always requires end user transformation.
Ingenuity on the other hand is less about introducing something new and more about leveraging resources within reach to solve complex problems. Ingenuity is crucial for businesses seeking improvements in both efficiency and effectiveness. It works by making iterative changes to a business’s existing mindset and processes.
Ingenuity employs the power of cleverness, sustainable problem solving, collaboration, and authenticity to advance business operations in real time.
Ingenuity is at the core of marketplace adaptation
Both innovation and ingenuity are important, but ingenuity is superior for businesses seeking to create value in a faster, more economical way that responds to challenges emerging in the moment.
For example, let’s look at how a few smart companies were able to adapt this year during the great pandemic that rocked so many of our personal and professional lives. Ingenuity abounded. We’ve all marveled at the stories.
- Thousands of businesses previously committed to a brick and mortar office environment discover overnight that telecommuting is viable.
- Local brewers no longer able to seat customers learned how to sell beer online.
- Restaurants discovered that e-commerce could drive delivery and pickup, even when they had little to no infrastructure for such transactions before.
- Therapists, doctors, personal trainers, and yoga studios learned how to safely evaluate, treat, counsel, and guide their clients using secure digital platforms.
- Museums held annual fundraising dinners, but sent the food to donor’s homes where they could safely enjoy the fine cuisine while watching the program—and making donations—online.
Healthy businesses foster ingenuity every day
It is easy to recognize the role that ingenuity played in facilitating the near instant adaptation that was called for in the spring of 2020, when COVID-19 emerged to alter the way everyone lived, worked, and played.
But ingenuity is necessary for overcoming the adverse conditions that thriving businesses face every day—whether that means igniting more engagement among a company’s stakeholders or ensuring that a high-performance technology company’s website accurately reflects the needs of its audience.
Unique business challenges call for authentic solutions. Ingenuity encourages swift adaptation and re-energization by teams and individuals coping with the spontaneous emergence of adverse conditions. That’s why successful companies learn how to create environments favorable for fostering ingenuity everyday.
Establishing best practices fosters digital ingenuity
All companies can begin to foster digital ingenuity by following three best practices.
1) Approach with a sustainable mindset
Sustainability is a term that has come to be primarily associated with the natural environment, but the concept is simple—today’s choices affect tomorrow’s outcomes, so plan accordingly because the future really is in our hands. All businesses benefit by creating a decision-making process that seeks solutions to today’s challenges that can also open pathways for future success. It’s much easier and faster for decision-makers to let tomorrow take care of itself, but doing so brings minimal value—and does not establish a foundation for the future. Ingenious solutions should always solve for today while creating a framework for fueling tomorrow.
2) Leverage authentic voices
Truly fresh ideas rarely emerge from teams that are primarily composed of people with similar backgrounds. Diversity drives breakthrough creativity. When people with divergent skills, experiences, insights, and perspectives rally to collaboratively address challenges, the depth and breadth of expertise is exponentially increased and a solution can be identified. Seek to engage a symphony of specialists to amplify the spark of ingenuity—and don’t let egos, technologies, or personal preferences drive the process.
3) Promote cleverness and play
Creativity fosters ingenuity. And creativity is fostered by play and clever thinking. Engage your people regularly in workshops and collaborative work sessions that provide opportunities for quick thinking and improvisation at a fun, fast pace. Successful sessions provoke group problem solving and the sharing of unorthodox ideas that lead directly into nimble iterations and swift consensus. More than simple team-building, these workshops may lead to enhanced risk management and more intuitive processes that encourage the inclusion of all of its resources— even the least obvious ones—in the quest for ingenious solutions.
Isovera can help
We help our clients fan the flames of their own ingenuity—and we love it!
Clients believe us when we extol the many ways that ingenuity improves business practices because they can see that we do more than talk the talk. At Isovera, we incorporate the three best practices laid out above into every aspect of our process. On client engagements, our symphony of specialists collaborate closely with authentic players on the client side to find unique, ingenious, and sustainable digital solutions. We help our clients foster ingenuity in the ongoing quest to outsmart adversity by swiftly identifying obstacles and rooting them out. Ingenuity at Isovera doesn’t just apply to development, but also how we approach strategy, creative, UX, and marketing.
We understand that there are many ways for organizations to accomplish their goals—the word “Isovera,” after all, is Latin for “equal truths.” When we work with businesses, we commit to using ingenuity to find solutions that serve today’s needs while building pathways for future development, and future success.