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#980: Bringing Innovation Into Your Consulting Practice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 5, 2009
I am looking to create new services and products in my practice. What are some simple ways to put me in a position to do so?

Much has been written about creativity in individuals and formal processes to foster innovation in companies. What you seem to be talking about is in between, where you want to create a space for your company but where you are the company.

An adaptation of the Center for Creative Leadership's principles for innovation, which might help your consulting practice create new services:
  1. Convert problems to ideas: The stimulus for new ideas comes from being forced to focus on solving a problem. In almost every case, there are better ways to solve, or avoid, a problem. See problems as needing a new approach, not just something to power through using common wisdom.
  2. Create an innovation system: Creativity exists in all organizations and in all individuals, but it is rarely channeled and deliberate. Make innovation intentional. Set up a time and set of steps to think about the nature of problems, the inputs and processes commonly used to solve them and the satisfaction of the outcomes. Where are alternatives possible?
  3. Make your sense of pain or urgency drive innovation: New ideas may be spontaneous but translating them into actionable processes or products requires emotional attachment. You have to see excitement or promise in new ideas to move them from thought to action.
  4. Hang out with other creative people and/or people who have the same problems you face: The same thinking yields the same results. Innovation is most fertile when several disciplines come together. Make it a point to get to know consultants who work in other industries or disciplines and ask how they would solve a common problem.
Tip: Make innovation a deliberate part of your consulting strategy. Considering that professional services has about a three year life (at least that was conventional wisdom a few years ago), you need to replace or refresh a third of your services every year. Write down a few problems you'd like to solve or services you'd like to introduce. Introduce yourself to a steady stream of new consultants to discuss these ideas and help them innovate as well. This is a big reason why IMC is such a fertile generator of new consulting services.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  innovation  intellectual property  knowledge assets  practice management 

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