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Archive for March, 2010

Innovation: Get in the Batter’s Box

I love baseball. Everyone has a baseball story. You played baseball, watched a family member play or joined the game being played at the park or in the backyard. You’ve been to a game as either a participant or spectator. Tell me I’m wrong (if I am).

What is it about the game of baseball?

The most intriguing part of the game for me is a mix of the
on-the-field strategy and the statistics that govern the play. In particular I’ve always had a fascination with the batting average (another thing that, in one way or another everyone is familiar with). Don’t think so?

Ever heard or used the phrase “batting a thousand”?

Batting average (simply defined as the ratio of hits to at bats) measures how often (on average) a batter will get a hit. If a player has a batting average of .250 then, on average they will get a hit for every 4 times they visit the plate.

So why are we talking about baseball and batting averages? I thought I opened this to read about innovation.

Stick with me for just a minute. The two tie together.

Innovation has always been key to business, especially in times of economic turmoil. It’s also an idea with which we have a romantic fascination. Who doesn’t want to innovate? “We need to innovate more” is a battle cry of sorts that gets attention and inspires us to our feet while raising the pulse. I love the idea of innovating more and agree that it (innovation) must be a constant. We talk a lot about innovation, its importance, its impact. That’s the fun and easy part. The hard part, and where innovation falls apart is in the execution. We are called to arms, maybe we have some discussions around it, make some plans and then it stops. There’s too much ideation and not enough implementation.

Is it any wonder why innovation stops before it starts?

We want to innovate, we just don’t want to take the step to execute a change, we find it difficult to try. We want to raise our batting average, to get more hits (on average) we just don’t want to step in the batters box and face more pitches in order to raise that average.

There’s one way for a hitter to raise their batting average.

Take more swings.

Face more pitches, take more swings.

There is no way around it.

The same is true with innovation. It’s important to set the vision, call for innovation. It’s more important to try a bunch of stuff (stand in the batter’s box and swing). The result of those swings will be the true collaborative ideas that lead to your next innovation.

Baseball season starts in a couple of weeks. Salute your baseball story by thinking of a need, thinking of some solutions and commit to increasing your innovation batting average.

NEXT POST: How to spur innovative ideas into action.