- Seek fresh eyes. Ask new employees and interns to make a note of every question they have about how things get done in your organization. If anything—reports, approvals, meetings, reviews—doesn’t seem sensible, let them record those inefficiencies. After a few weeks, when they’ve become familiar with the organization and its workflow, have them reassess and report their observations. The best improvement ideas come from people who aren’t stuck in the established ways.
- Notice something? Fix it quickly or delegate. Never walk absentmindedly by something that could be improved. A cluttered instruments cabinet in a warehouse? A loose tile in a walkway? A broken link on your customer service website? Don’t take inconveniences and unpleasant situations for granted.
- Explore the outsider’s perspective. Notice how trivial stuff can really frustrate you when you’re standing in line at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or dealing with a slow bureaucracy? While running errands, do others’ rules, regulations, and procedures annoy you? Bump into something that doesn’t have to be laborious, arduous, expensive, or annoying, but is? Examine if your business imposes any of those inconveniences on your customers.
- Make it easy for customers to complain. Seek customer feedback in such a way that it encourages people to share their negative experiences. As I’ve illuminated before, many innovative ideas have their roots in prudent attention to and empathy with customers’ experiences.
Idea for Impact: Problem-finding is one of the most significant—and overlooked—parts of innovation. Learn to pay attention to the subtle clues to opportunities all around.