Sometimes you need that extra edge

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, when it comes to winning in the innovation game, sometimes you need that extra edge.

Sales Cartoon #5506 by Andertoons
Andertoons Sales Cartoons

Most  innovators can tell you that success is tied to a number of factors.  When they come together in the right order and with the right combinations, it can lead to a winning run.  It’s a bit like a game of pool. 

You need a good break

In the game of pool, the “break” occurs when the player shoots into the racked balls to start the pool game. This break causes the balls to disperse all around the table where they may be shot at and pocketed.

In the innovation game, you may need to exert a bit a force to reorder things.  The form of our business may be shaped by process, procedure and institutional knowledge that says that this is the way we have always done it so this is the way it is done.  Sometimes it takes a a bit of applied energy to break up that old thinking and spread things out so that you can make room for new opportunities.

Scope out ALL your aim spots.

The “aim spot” is the exact spot where the cue tip contacts the cue ball or where the cue ball connects with the object ball to send it sailing towards the pocket.

Knowing where to apply your energy to effect forward movement is an art.  The best pool players know this and so do the most successful innovators.  Your first point of impact is critical.  Scanning the various opportunities spread out before you and then choosing the one most likely for success takes a combination of focus and strategy.  Select the one that is best positioned to get to that first success point while also positioning yourself for the follow up shot.  Then focus in on your first action, identify exactly where you need to apply your impact.

Be sure to call your shot

To “call” your shot means to verbally announce which ball you are shooting for and where you plan to pocket it.

In pool, if your don’t call your shot, the point does not count. In business we ‘call our shot’ by letting the team know the who-what-where-and why of our strategy.  If we don’t call it clearly, the team’s efforts are scattered and the impact is lessened.  Lack of a clearly stated direction can have your team bouncing all over the place and missing out on new opportunities or missing what you are shooting for completely.

Reach Farther

The “bridge” is where the shaft of the cue stick is rested on and where it slides when taking a shot. This bridge may either be the “bridge hand”, or the “bridge stick”, which is used when a longer reach is needed to access the cue ball.

Sometimes the shot you need is outside your personal reach.  You need a tool or a “hand” to line things up.  This may be an advisor, an investor or a strategic partner.  Whatever resource you need… use it.  Many a shot was missed when we fail to use the tools and resources at our disposal.  True innovation makes it better for all of your key constituencies – employees, customers, partners, and investors.  Bring them into the mix early and work in combination.

Master the Art of the Combination

A “combination” is where the cue ball hits one object ball into another, with the intent of sinking one of the object balls.

Innovation rarely occurs as a single event or action.  Normally it is a chain where one change can affect multiple results.  Look for all the possible applications your innovation can apply to.  Don’t limit yourself to only one.  Equally important, combine your energies with other strategic partners who can also benefit.  Use their reach and energy to move the game forward faster.

Take advantage of your edge

Innovation can give you that extra edge..but knowing how to execute will give you a chance to run the table.  So rack up those new ideas, line up your shot and get in the game.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Joan Koerber-Walker is President and CEO of AZBio, the Arizona BioIndustry Association. A two time Stevie Award National Finalist and former Fortune 500 executive, she is also the Chairman of the Board of CorePurpose, Inc. and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation and serves as Executive in Residence for Callaman Ventures. As the former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association in Washington, D.C. Joan has worked with hundreds of small businesses and on behalf of thousands in these roles. Chat with her on Twitter as @AZBioCEO @joankw, @JKWgrowth, @JKWinnovation, @JKWleadership and @CorePurpose or at her blog at www.JoanKoerber-Walker.com.

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