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Innovation Practice Makes Innovation Perfect

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C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

I've had the privilege the last few years of coaching my son's baseball team. Each year we win some games and we lose some games. Last week was one of those days in which our team didn't perform real well on the diamond. Didn't hit great. Didn't pitch great. And in particular didn't field the ball great. And although we actually made it a fairly close game for our competitor ' largely because the other team didn't perform real well either - we lost.

Fielding was our principle difficulty during the game. Kids weren't getting in front of ground balls. Kids weren't keeping their gloves and heads down. Ground balls that should have been routine, scooted through into the outfield.

It's somewhat understandable that the kids didn't do so well. Our schedule over the past couple weeks was such that we didn't actually have any practices. We've played a couple games, but no practices. It showed.

Baseball is built on fundamental skills and techniques. There are proper ways to hit, field, and throw a baseball. Although some people simply have more talent than others, everyone can benefit from practice and skills development. Major league baseball players didn't rise to their level simply because they are gifted.

Might innovation be similar?

Can we as innovators benefit from practice?

Sure we can. But how often do we engage in innovation activities except in the moment of necessity? All of us practice giving big presentations. And some of us may even practice things like negotiating. But how often have you had an ideation session simply to practice the process of ideation? Have you ever gotten together with management to practice making decisions? Why wait until game time to see if your skills are what they should be? Take some innovation batting practice. Field some ground balls. Make sure you don't let that great idea scoot through into the outfield when it counts.

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