My father was a a great farmer and through his life trained also to be an amateur in many fields. He was an engineer, a mechanic, an agronomist, a vet, a meteorologist and many other things – and all these skills were obtained through the lost art of experimentation (what he would have called necessity).
His skills were gained when problems arose and he needed a solution, he watched experts and learned from them, he tinkered with things that weren’t working as well as they could, he learnt on the job – and as a result (combined with a lot of very hard work) he created a very successful business.
With such a large focus on innovation the big question is “how do we get our people to innovate”?
Well I think Dad’s approach to innovation is a pretty good method.
Your people should have access to experts, people who are good at what they do and are prepared to share their methods – not people who come in to fix a problem and depart leaving no deeper understanding to your people.
Your people should have the freedom to tinker with things – experiment to improve processes, develop better products and generally take the business to the next level – not be so busy that they can barely complete their day job let alone think about potential improvements.
And all this takes time – if you’re not prepared to budget ‘learning’ and ‘tinkering’ time you’ll never set your teams free to innovate.