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Learning to innovate for companies and employees: 8 tips

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 companies and employees learn to innovate? And do not we have to take our own nose? 

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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.

If you take a look at other industries, you may be shocked by their callousness - at least in the last few days, when I was looking for new distribution channels for my publishing products with the rather traditional and accordingly slow-ticking German publishing industry had to do all sorts of anachronistic talks. These companies and their employees did not seem to me 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, a study by the Vodafone Institute was just right for me, which has been passed around via social media in the past few days: For "The Tech Divide: Industry and Labor", the Ipsos polling institute interviewed 9.000 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 agree that their country is lagging behind in digitalization - the highest rate of all countries surveyed.

Digitization degree: Germany vs. USA, China, Sweden

In contrast, the degree of digitization or use of new technologies is rated highest in the USA, China and Sweden. Disruptive innovations and success stories of well-known US companies from Silicon Valley or leading Chinese companies or Spotify from Sweden play an important role. The comprehensive digitization of the country since the late 90s through the “PC reform” has its share in the positive perception. In other countries, corresponding success stories are less noticed.

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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 take a look at our own nose - and look, for example, at the completely new tools that are always on the market: From the latest social media gadget to automation applications to project management Programs. And all of them promise us more productivity and a better life.

And then our enthusiasm for innovation is quickly over, because if we wanted to try them all, we wouldn't get anything - right? A post by Shel Holtz brought me to this topic some time ago: He wrote on Ragan's PR Daily about “7 reasons to try out new tools - without wasting time". In German: 7 reasons to try new tools without wasting 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.

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 onto the market on a weekly basis. I remember well when Google+ was introduced and many sighed: "Another new social network that we have to use." This is how it works with many tools that we hear from friends and acquaintances or read in the media: This app is hip right now, 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:

“Indeed, there is no shortage of digital helpers who want to make us believe that thanks to them we are now finally able to work in a very focused manner, never let ourselves be distracted and forget any important tasks. Countless new tools appear every week, and developers are probably hoping to launch the new Evernote or the new Dropbox. I would still like to introduce them to you here, but I am less and less convinced by 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?

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 innovations is actually a sign of innovation, as is well known. And that is what is known to be lacking in Germany, as we have stated above. But maybe not always, just now and then. Then when it's really worth it, but not because Tool X or App Y is suddenly being hyped and we think we have to participate.

So the question arises: which innovations are worth trying? A problem that probably everyone knows who has a lot to do with technology. To find out, I created this little tip list, showing when Sense makes it more engaging 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.

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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4 responses to "Learning to be innovative for companies and employees: 8 tips"

  1. Manuel Dreher says:

    Many companies have long since ceased to be enthusiastic about innovation.

  2. Tanja Potratz says:

    Wow, a really good site, keep it up!

  3. Holger Prieske says:

    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 in this survey 60% say “I am a pessimist” and a lot of people read it now, then it is contagious, and next time 70% say “I am pessimistic”. You need the positive optimistic statements to change this impression.
    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.

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