The current issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal recognizes their 2015 Forty Under 40 recipients. This group of leaders represents all industries from technology, academia, health care, construction and many more. Interviews with the group also reveal many lessons on what it takes to be more innovative in your own work and organizations.
Innovation Lessons from the IBJ’s Forty Under 40:
Get Out in The Field
Milhaus Development’s Micah Hill shares the importance of working out in the field to gain a better understanding of the industry he is now a leader in. During his college years, Hill worked in construction. “I was fascinated with the creation and formation of things… It was great experience in understanding…”
Collect More Dots
Innovation is about collecting and connecting dots. And if you want to connect more dots, you’ve got to put more dots on the canvas. Speak Easy Executive Director, Denver Hutt, emphasizes that one of her missions is “to meet cool people doing cool things.” This put her in position to meet many area founders and led to her job at The Speak Easy.
Mainstreet’s Adlai Chester, discusses the importance to always be learning about your industry. “It’s too easy to think you have it figured out,” he said, “but that’s the time you set yourselgf up for failure… We have to make sure we are in the front edges of changees in the industry.”
The Colts’ Carlie-Irsay Gordon admits that she is “interested in everything”. This appetite for new knowledge led to studies in both religion and phsychology. It also helps drive her involvement with many different Indianapolis organizations including Park Tudor School, Riley Children’s Foundation and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.
Experian principal, Vijay Mehta, also emphasized the role curiosity plays in his success. “The best way to grow is try new things and never settle for the status quo,” he said. “I’m always looking for new opportunities, new ideas, new technology…”
Don’t Let Off The Gas
Many organizations find it tempting to take it easy after launching a successful innovation. The Excel Center’s Joe White issues a lesson in taking your foot off the gas. Twice during his football career, Joe found himself not taking his training seriously. “The biggest lesson I learned through athletics is to always prepare for transition,” White said. “You can be good where you are, but you have to prepare for what’s coming next.” That means you should always be innovating. You should be the organization that replaces your own product in the market with the next big thing.
Step Off The Trail and Explore
Governor Pence’s Health Care Policy Director, Brian Neale, tries to look at the map in business or travel for opportunities to find new routes. “What we’re trying to do with health care is to extend the trail of reform into new territory. The scenery changes when you step off the trail, and that can be some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.” Go explore.
To help spark ideas for Milhaus’ construction projects, Micah Hill prefers to travel, especially to visit other cities “to see what’s going on there with development and architecture.” Find ways to explore your industry in new places and new settings.
A dominant feature of The Speak Easy is its bar. Denver Hutt emphasizes the key role it plays in developing collaborative relationships and new ideas. “Members grab beers, hang out and are more social at the end of the workday. They put their guard down. They discuss business problems. That’s great.”
Novelist Ben H. Winters shared about the important role performing improvisation has played in his writing success. “That’s how conflicts are created. You also learn to collaborate.” And don’t think improv is just for creative artists. Local improv group, ComedySportz Indianapolis, offers team building and corporate training. It turns out that that improv fundamentals work very well in business – the importance of co-creation, building on others’s ideas and working without a script.
“People believe they are forced to take the first thing for stability,” says Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s Betsy McCaw. “But to take a risk – to trust yourself and the skills you’ve built – that can go a long way in one’s career and one’s life.”
The final lesson comes from Hillenbrand Director of Human Resources, Jason Riley. When asked what will make it easier to recruit locally, he said, “Indianapolis is growing and evolving, which is exciting. But it has a reputation for being conservative. The more we embrace creativity and take calculated risks, the more we turbocharge the city.”
Start applying these lessons and you’ll not only turbocharge your city, you’ll also turbocharge innovation in your organization.