Why Build Your Business's Innovations Incrementally

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Incremental steps. That's been our theme this month, and we love the idea. At first, go small with your innovations. Start small. But, if your innovations prove promising, don't stay small. Build gradually. Build gradually through small successes. The best inventions started out small. Google's search engine, Ray Kroc's first McDonald's, Sam Walton's first discount little shop, William Hewlett's and David Packard's first little idea from its labs (a bowling foul indicator)---all began as infants. Says organizational behavior Professor Andrew Hargadon:
Brokers must be good at testing ideas, at judging them on merit without letting politics or precedent get in the way. Brokers' attitude toward ideas is usually "Easy come, easy go." They treat ideas as inexpensive and easily replaceable playthings that they are supposed to enjoy, understand, push to the limit, break, and change in ways the ideas' inventors never imagined. If an idea seems to solve a current problem, they build on it. If an idea doesn't work out, they look for another. Brokers rarely keep trying to make something work in the face of evidence that it won't. They focus on finding the best ideas for solving problems, not on solutions they can claim glory for. We call it the nothing-is-invented-here attitude.
Unfortunately, the media promotes "big ideas," but never describes the process to get to those big ideas. Once you learn to start and build incrementally, you'll understand why the tortoise always beats the hare.

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Posted on May 17

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