You’ve over-thought the idea of innovation. That’s why you aren’t innovative in your life.
Innovation is about very small tweaks. It’s about taking a step to the right or left; it’s about experimenting.
My favorite way to innovate is to explore new, small ways to do the same things I’m already doing, most of which fail
and one or two of which will stick.
I was getting my eyebrows waxed the other day and I noticed a sign on the wall: “Sensitive wax available. $10 extra.”
I thought, That’s interesting; I’ve never seen that before. I asked the aesthetician about it. “Does it
hurt less than regular wax?”
“No, it is less irritating, though,” she said. “If you have sensitive skin, you’ll see a big difference.
No red bumps. Would you like me to use the sensitive wax?”
I chose the regular wax, but thought, Now that’s innovative. Here I am in this small room, with hot wax on my face,
and I’m thinking about how obvious and smart it is to offer two waxes. I’ve never seen it before. I bet half the
women who walk into this room opt for it. Innovation in action. They’ve figured out a way to innovate the tried and
true waxing experience. They didn’t reinvent the process. They didn’t overhaul it. They innovated it.
Innovation happens when you find a natural extension to what you are currently doing. I bet you do this all the time when
you are cooking at home. Try a little of this, or a little of that, and next thing you know, you’ve figured out how
to put flaxseed in the waffle mix without your kid tasting it.
My husband and his business partner, Jonathan, did this in their business, Stone Hearth Pizza. Their core business is sourcing
ingredients from local farms to make artisanal pizza. They have three restaurants in the Boston area, but they are always
innovating the method they use to get pizzas to the public. They started with dine-in only. Once they nailed that, they started
offering delivery—a small innovation. Then they printed up a catering menu. Next, they were volunteering to do events.
That innovation required them to figure out how to cook their pizzas outside, so they experimented. After weeks of experimentation,
they determined that a massive grill was the best bet. That innovation (that their pizzas are amazing on a grill) made them
see the next obvious innovation: they should sell them wholesale to grocery stores. A couple hundred networking meetings later,
small innovations have led them to contracts with Whole Foods and BJ’s, where you can now find their fresh pizzas advertised
as “Great on the Grill.” Their wholesale business was born—all through one small innovation at a time.
You’ve had trouble innovating because you think it is some big leap from where you stand right now. Not so. All innovation
occurs by making small movements. Those small movements add up to huge change.
Mel Robbins is a syndicated radio host and executive producer of The Mel Robbins Show. Her first book is due out this
fall from Crown Publishing.