Innovate for Career Success

I got a review copy of Innovation You by Jeff DeGraff the other day – free books are one of the great side benefits of writing this career success blog.  The subtitle is “Four Steps for Becoming New and Improved.”

Like most good career advice, Jeff’s four steps are simple common sense.

  • Rethink Innovation.  Find ways to think outside the box, seek out diverse opinions, and pay attention to the next great trend.
  • Rethink Your Approach.  Identify your natural innovation profile – do you compete, collaborate, create or control?  Then deliberately draw from the other styles to augment your usual tactics.
  • Rethink Your Methods.  Put your reinvention plan in motion – set specific, realistic and meaningful targets, cultivate relationships with mentors and experts.  Try alternate methods to achieve your goals.
  • Rethink the Journey.  Understand that innovation is a process, and that progress comes in cycles rather than a quick straight line.  Accept uncertainty, question assumptions and acknowledge areas where you can improve.

Let’s focus on the Jeff’s second point.  Tweet 125 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Get to know yourself.  Use this self knowledge to better understand others and build mutually beneficial relationships with them.”

I believe that we can all benefit from gaining a better understanding of ourselves – what turns us on, what turns us off, what motivates us, etc.  However, I think that the real benefit is less knowing yourself than in it is in knowing other people.  If you understand other people — what turns them on, what turns them off, what motivates them – you are in a better position to build positive, constructive relationships with them — and be more innovative.

Jeff’s perspective on innovation echoes this thought.  He includes a short self evaluation in the back of the book.  He asks you to think of an innovation project in which you’re involved and then to answer nine questions.  The first three questions are about your personal approach to the project.  The second three questions are about the innovation team’s approach to the project.  The third set of questions is about the situation itself.

I completed the instrument and found that my personal approach to innovation in general and this project in particular is to create, but the team’s approach is to collaborate, and the situation calls for collaboration.  In this case, I need to adjust my behavior to be in sync with the team and the situation.

This is valuable knowledge and leads to some great career advice.  Without it, I run the risk of pushing too hard for my own ideas and not actively engaging the other team members.  As I think about the situation I realize that these nine questions accurately describe this innovation project.  I am an expert in the area on which we are working.  That’s why I want to create the solution.  The team however, doesn’t want to be told what to do.  They want to come up with a collaborative solution.  And, because this is an important project, collaboration is called for.  Everybody’s voice and ideas must be heard.

All of this tells me to put my ideas out there, but to listen to what other people have to say – especially when they disagree with me.  By listening first and not pushing too hard for my ideas, I can be a better team member, and help us collectively create a highly innovative solution to the opportunity the team is facing.

The career advice here is simple.  I am a member of an innovation team.  I have to adapt my preferred style of solving the problem with which have been tasked to the team and situation.  If I don’t do so, I am unlikely to be a significant contributor to the team and to be successful in building a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with my teammates.  It is up to me to recognize how my preferred style differs from the team and the needs of situation and to adapt my behavior to a manner that will help me become an influential member of the teams and help the team accomplish its goal.  I need to understand my needs and adapt them to the team and situation – not the other way around.

The career success coach point here is straightforward and simple common sense.  Successful people understand themselves.  They follow the career advice in Tweet 125 in Success Tweets.  “Get to know yourself.  Use your self knowledge to better understand others and build mutually beneficial relationships with them.”  They use their understanding of themselves to compare and contrast their needs and wants with the people around them.  In this way, they adapt their behavior to other people and situations – making it easier to be influential, solve problems and build strong relationships.  The next time you run into someone who looks at the world differently from you, see what you can do to adapt your communication style and behavior to his or her style.  If you do this, I guarantee you’ll be on your way to building a better, stronger relationship with that person, come up with more innovative solutions to problems and stay on the road to the life and career success you want and deserve.

That’s the career advice I gleaned from reading Jeff DeGraff’s interesting new book Innovation You.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

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