I will be entering my 40th (40-something) year of working in our amazing industry. I say amazing not because it is perfect or easy for everyone, but it has been great to me and most everyone reading this article. Why is this industry amazing?

1-    Income unlimited

2-    Transportable and mobile

3-    Limited capital required

4-    Many ways to succeed

5-    Adaptable from lifestyle business to growth company

6-    Self determination

7-    Impact company success

8-    Impact lives of people

Wow, huh! Perhaps 2020 will be the year that you seize the opportunity in front of you. I know our industry can make a roller coaster look flat, but I’m just reminding you we work in a pretty awesome industry!

2020 is here! What are your goals? How are you going to get there?

It is critical to adapt and improve every year in our business. If you do the same thing in 2020 as 2019 will you have the same results? Not likely - doing the same thing never produces the same results because everything is changing around you. Improvement is critical to ensure the same results. I would challenge you to add these two goals to your 2020 planning:

  • One Client Facing Innovation (improvement)
  • One Candidate or Process Innovation (improvement)

I was introduced to the idea of “fixedness” during a “How to Innovate” seminar that I attended a couple years back. We are all afflicted with “fixedness.” These are thoughts that prevent having an open mind which is critical to innovation. The fixedness might be an “I’ve tried that before” thought or some other version of “I will never __________.” You don’t want to close doors that might lead to a new opportunity. If you want to innovate, then you need to police your own “fixedness.” If you struggle with understanding your fixedness, then ask someone around you. Open your mind!

Let’s next define innovation. No doubt this is a much misunderstood word. This isn’t “blue ocean” or “thinking outside the box” but rather the opposite. Here is a definition: a new solution that makes a meaningful change to improve your service, products or internal process that either saves time, reduces expenses or increases revenue.

Okay, here are two ways to innovate as learned at this seminar. Stay with me…this is good stuff!

First, segment out each step within a process that you want to innovate. These segments or components represent the steps you take within a process. A client-facing example is from taking a job order to coordinating the client through filling the position. A candidate or internal process might be from the initial pitch call to a candidate through placing that candidate on that job. Take each one of those steps and write it on an index card or blank sheet of paper if you want to use the floor to help with your visualization.

Method 1 – Subtraction

Remove seemingly essential elements. For example – you don’t get to contact lenses until you subtract eye glasses. Subtract a bank teller and you get an ATM. Subtract travel agents and you get Expedia. Subtract water from soup and you get powdered soup.

Method 2 – Division

Separate components of a product or service and rearrange them. Really, this is about sub-dividing a product, service or process into its various parts so that then they are reconfigured to add new value. One example is central air conditioning. The motor, fan and hardware were separated from the window unit. Fast-food drive-through separated payment from collecting your food to increase speed.

At some point the hotel industry will do away with registration at a front desk. You will register on your smart phone. You will click “here” on your phone when you arrive and your phone will also be your room key. This was my recent experience at a resort hotel. I had already registered on line. I gave them my name and they handed me a drink as we walked in the hotel. This is an example of subtraction – removing the requirement of checking in, exchanging information, printing a key. They also divided some of the steps and moved from the hotel to the comfort of your home.

Separating out the steps in each process also might highlight your need to improve a step or it might be obvious to combine steps. Consider the importance and cost of each step. Consider that meaningful change is really a matter of making changes that seem surmountable when broken down into parts.

Good luck innovating your way to success in 2020.

Happy Hunting!

P.S. Information from this article was from a Wall Street Journal article that was written by authors Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldberg. Jacob authored a book called Inside the Box. The innovation practices derive from tools associated with Systematic Inventive Thinking in case you want to further understand.