Learning to innovate for companies and employees: 8 tips

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Germany tends to be hostile to innovation. According to a recent study, 59 percent of Germans share this pessimistic assessment. But what does that really look like in practice? Can Company and employees learn to innovate? And do not we have to take our own nose? Learning to innovate for companies and employees: 8 tips Learning to innovate for companies and employees: 8 tips

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Here writes for you: Simone Janson is a publisher, German Top20 blogger and HR communication consultant. Profile

Innovative pioneers in the digital industry?


Especially in the digital industry, many people like to call themselves innovative pioneers and thought leaders. New things are constantly being tried out and people are proud to be able to communicate in real time - at least until they are in desperate need of holidays themselves.

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If you take a look at other industries, you may be shocked by their pettiness - at least in the last few days, when I was looking for new distribution channels for my publishing products with the rather traditional and slowly ticking German publishing industry had to do all sorts of anachronistic talks. These Company and her staff did not seem to be innovative at all.

Long-established industries are ticking slowly


My personal highlight was the statement that the publishing industry is ticking a bit slow and that answers need half a year. By the way, it does not surprise me in this context that Amazon has disrupted the book market, which in Germany is often sued extensively. But the Americans are just a bit more efficient.

Accordingly, I just liked a study by the Vodafone Institute, which was passed around in the last few days via social media: For "The Tech Divide: Industry and Work", the polling institute Ipsos 9.000 surveyed people from nine countries and selected experts. From a German perspective, how could it be otherwise, the result is rather sobering: 59 percent of Germans just agree to the statement that their country lags behind in digitization - the highest rate of all countries surveyed.

Digitization degree: Germany vs. USA, China, Sweden


The highest rating, however, is the degree of digitization or use of new technologies in the US, China and Sweden. Disruptive innovations and success stories of well-known US companies from Silicon Valley or leading Chinese companies or, for example, Spotify from Sweden play an important role. The comprehensive digitalization of the country since the late 90er years through the "PC reform" has its share of the positive perception. In other countries, success stories are less noticeable.

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Apart from the fact that I wonder where the digital flagship Estonia remains in this overview, the thing with the beautiful new digital world, of course, has a flip side. As I said, we always like to think we are particularly digital, innovative, efficient and productive - in contrast to such companies anyway. But, is this really the truth?

How innovative are we really?


To answer the question, we only have to catch a glimpse of ourselves - and, for example, look at the brand new tools that are on the market again and again: from the latest social media gadget to automation applications and project management programs. And all promise us more productivity and a better life.

And then it's over quickly with our enthusiasm for innovation, because if we wanted to try all of them, we would come to nothing more - right? Some time ago a contribution by Shel Holtz brought me to this topic: On Ragan's PR Daily he wrote about "7 reasons to try out new tools - without wasting time". Too german: 7 reasons to try new tools without losing time.

The title sounded promising, but defacto the post was a plea for trying out new tools and showed above all the benefits of such tests - eg that with a new tool could reach new reach and new user groups, which, of course, strongly depends on which Tools are concerned.

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The crux of the problem: our excessive demands


However, Shel Holtz's contribution also brought me to the heart of the problem: we are simply overwhelmed with the many new tools that are thrown into the market virtually every week. I remember well when Google+ was launched and many sighed, "Another social network we need to use." That's how it is with many tools we hear from friends and acquaintances or read in the media: this app is just hip, the latest craze and a third is guaranteed to boost our productivity.

Now there are tool enthusiasts like Patrick Molletwho presents new apps and tools every week. But even Patrick notes:

"In fact, there is no shortage of digital helpers who want to make us believe that thanks to them, we are finally able to work very focused, never get distracted, and forget about important tasks. Countless new tools appear every week, and most likely the developers are hoping to launch the new Evernote or the new Dropbox each. I would like to introduce you to this here, but less and less convincing me a new release. "

Schuster, stay with your last?


So should we let the new things be simple and stay with the tried and true? Should not we just waste time trying out new tools because the old apps can do it all? And how innovative are we really still, where, as we see in this way on our own example, how fast we are innovation-tired?

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In fact, it would be the wrong way to just throw the gun in the dust, because we not only give ourselves the chance to get to know new, improved digital helper, but will suddenly be quite helpless when our favorite tool is suddenly turned off, which I already happened more often. In that sense, Shel Holtz is right, we should actually test new tools.

8 tips for more friends of innovation


Trying out new things, testing new products is indeed also a sign of innovation. And as you know, there is a shortage of this in Germany, as we have stated above. But maybe not always, but only now and then. Then, if it's really worth it, but not because Tool X or App Y is suddenly being hyped and we think we need to get involved.

This raises the question: Which innovations worth trying? A problem that probably everyone knows who has a lot to do with technology. To find out, I've created this little tip list, showing when it makes sense to engage in more detail with a new tool - and when not.

  1. What goals do you want to achieve in terms of your productivity?
  2. How did you become aware of the tool?
  3. How much have you been influenced by others in your opinion?
  4. What should the tool be able to do?
  5. Is this feature really helpful for your productivity purposes?
  6. Is the new feature really an enhancement to the apps and tools you've been using, or just old wine in new hoses?
  7. Are there already opinions or reviews, where you can orient yourself in advance?
  8. Can you test the tool for free?

Innovation - a social problem


This is more than just a private problem: it ultimately shows why good innovations often have such a hard time, probably not only in Germany. Man is simply a creature of habit. New things are often scary. And any innovation has any disadvantages for anyone. Innovation is also a social problem.

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What experiences have you made with new tools? Were the tests a waste of time or did they take you further? And how innovative do you think?

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  1. Holger Prieske

    Yes, the Germans are pessimists, And such a survey without context, is a survey of the gut feeling, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    If 60% say "I'm pessimist" in this poll, and many people now read that, then that's the point, and next time 70% say "I'm pessimistic." You need the positive optimistic statements for this impression to change.
    And those are missing, Germans would also rarely praise the current state, who are always looking for the error in the system.
    This is so common in an engineering nation. To be happy about what you have is not German.

    The fact that it is different in the digital industry does not matter because that's just 3-4% of the population. They can not tear it out.

    • Simone Janson

      Thanks for the factual comment!

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