Pixar, the world-famous animation studio, emerged into our lives (movie-wise) almost 30 years ago. It was highly successful, innovative, and the movies were entertaining for a long time. But something is just not working for Pixar these days. Its most recent movies, such as ‘Elemental’, aren’t nearly as successful as the company’s blockbusters. Why is this happening? Well, in this fast-changing world, even innovative minds may fall behind if they - if I may - rest on their laurels. Isn’t that the most common trap for the entrepreneurial mind?
I’m Ofir Bar, an investor with about a quarter of a century of experience in worldwide markets, and I am especially interested in startups and innovation. Naturally, I’m very familiar with the Achilles heel of innovative minds, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Many entrepreneurs are aware of the challenges of being successful. But few of them actually find a way to overcome the downfall that tends to follow a period of constant success. So, how can an innovative mind stay ‘fresh’ in a constantly changing world? Is it even possible to stay innovative all the time?
Facebook as a parable
Shortly, my answer is - yes and no. As we age, we tend to become less open to change. The same is true for companies. Successful, veteran companies tend to repeat their actions over and over again, expecting that what went well yesterday, will also work today. But that’s far from the truth. Just look at Facebook. This social media platform’s popularity was plummeting as newer, more ‘dopamine-bombarding’ apps like Instagram took control of the market. Zuckerberg realized he can’t fight the force of change, so what did he do? He just bought that change.
That said, there are two sides to that coin. It’s not just that successful companies tend to become mentally static - the needs and wishes of new consumer generations are always different to some degree from those of older generations. Catching up with youngsters’ trends is almost impossible for people who don’t live in their world of concepts. Lucky for Zuck, he could just afford to BUY a company that has proven itself as more youngster-oriented.
Nevertheless, I believe that with some effort and an open mind, you can continue being innovative. How?
Expanding to new ideas
First and foremost, the most important aspect of an innovative mind is to always question and challenge your premises. Yes, it’s hard. And for this reason, hiring some young people will help you ‘freshen up’ your perspective of the current market. You never know what innovative idea they will come up with! So, from time to time, ask yourself: Why am I doing it this way, and not differently? Am I pursuing the wrong goals? May I be ignoring some useful facts or ideas that are full of novel potential?
Look around you. Your surroundings are full of connections and patterns. Are you the kind of person who recognizes them, or lets them pass by you? In order to keep being innovative in this fast-paced world, you have to be able to spot relationships between people and places. This will help you think of things that can be improved or processes that can be more efficient. As importantly, it’s essential to let these ideas grow in an evolutionary way, and not try to force innovation if your business is not ready for it.
The best way to maximize your chances of finding new ideas and groundbreaking concepts is to open yourself to varied fields of interest. Remember, some of the most important discoveries were made ‘by mistake’ - an innovative mind that realized something while looking for something else. Awareness and presence are key to that. So, be interested in things that are not necessarily directly connected to your project. What will you find on the sides of the road? Who knows.
Always be a pioneer
These days, more than ever, it’s essential for entrepreneurs to constantly reinvent themselves. As trends come and go in a frequency that’s hard to follow, you should never be indifferent to things that change around you. So, always try to look at things from other perspectives. Constantly challenge your premises, and explore fields that aren’t directly connected to your field. Hopefully, following these steps will make you a pioneer entrepreneur!