In my latest book, Monkey Business – Highly Effective Principles of Entrepreneurial, Business, and Personal Success, I put forward a principle that you should never be afraid to paint your bananas blue. For those who are yet to read the book, ‘painting bananas blue’ is about sustained innovation, innovation that calls for continuous suggestions and trials and errors.
Based on the principles from the book, I am developing a Monkey Business Blueprint - a business planning and assessment framework that builds clear understanding of the business and creates a foundation for growth and success. The blueprint advocates simplicity when it comes to business planning, improvement and growth. Here, I want to share with you one such simple idea that I will be sharing with clients – the idea of a ‘What If’ box.
According to the principle of painting your bananas blue, success comes from the desire and ability to try different things without fear of failure. As a manager, you must provide an enabling environment for people who work for you to experiment and try new things without fear of reprimand. This is not about creating completely new products and services. Rather, it’s about seeing potential in everything around you, in everyday things. It’s about constantly asking the question ‘what if’.
Cultivating a culture of sustained innovation can be achieved by installing a simple ‘What If’ box, like a suggestion box. It doesn’t need to be a box, though. It could be a whiteboard or a digital board/place where everyone can write their ‘what if’ suggestion about, well, anything – the quality of product(s) or service(s), customer care, processes, working conditions - just about anything. Encourage people to pop in the box any ‘what if’ ideas they come up with no matter how silly or ridiculous it may seem. Periodically assess and share with everyone all the ideas that are submitted through the box. You may even offer a small reward for ideas that will be chosen for trialling. This simple activity will provide you with amazing opportunities for innovation. Suddenly every person in the workplace becomes an innovation agent and every piece of equipment, every process, every activity becomes a viable subject for improvement and innovation.
The Monkey Business book is available here