THE BLOG
07/25/2014 02:52 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2014

Is Your Business Challenging Conventional Thinking?

Whatever industry your business is in, there probably is a standard operating procedure for that particular industry. You probably hear it frequently when the old timers say, "This is how we do business." or "This is just the way business is done."

Nearly every industry has a typical way of conducting business, and some are changing faster than others. If you know that your business has succeeded by doing things the same way for years, or even decades, it's not time to celebrate and relax. It's time to get to work and look to the future.

Stop gambling with your business and start challenging conventional thinking. Look for and develop new ideas of doing business. Ask "why not," instead of "why." This will help to pave the way for new ideas to emerge.

You must stop resisting new ideas, concepts and points of view that differ from those that supported your past successes. What got you here is no guarantee for success tomorrow. - Strategies.com

Look To The Future

Stop playing Russian roulette and start looking to the future. It's time to come up with new ideas and products before your competition. I know, it's easier said than done. However, there are ways to begin this process that may not be as difficult as you may think. Your company can be small or it can be a global enterprise, it really doesn't matter. The innovative search process can still work and can be effective.

Small Businesses Perspective

Sam Watson, owner of OnboardOnline.com explains how even small companies can and should look to the future and expect results. Sam feels it's critical to always look for new, creative ways to conduct business. Here's what she has to say.

At OnboardOnline it's fundamental to our culture and model for growth. Whenever we change something or introduce something new, the whole team has input, as six good brains generally produce a better outcome than one.

Externally, as part of the sales process, we talk to business leaders every day, discussing pain points and commercial objectives so we can tailor online marketing solutions to achieve the results they need. This also gives us valuable insight into the numerous niches within the yachting market, which in turn influences our own approach and how to continually adapt to stay ahead.

For significant developments, consulting with leading innovators is invaluable. We regularly reach out to thought leaders in other sectors, for example where technology is more advanced, as it's a window on things to come, and often we can adapt their processes to work within our own context. Everything starts with the idea, and like technology, ideas travel.

The New Idea Process

Here are some simple ways to generate new, innovative ideas using your staff. You probably have people with great ideas already in your company, you just haven't asked anyone yet to give you their perspective. Hmm, guess you better get started.

• Create An Internal "Think Tank": You have to find some key innovators in your business that think different. I know this sounds much like a common cliché. However, it is a must. Today's employees that are the out-of-the-box thinkers can be called Intrapreneurs. They ask "why not," instead of "why." They push, poke and stretch the average, everyday concepts and develop new ones. Finding these people will help to pave the way for new ideas to emerge in your company. This team will also push others to think differently -- this is good.

• Talk To Other Business Leaders: It has been my experience that when I take the time to reach out to other business leaders both in and outside my industry, I usually end up with insight about a great idea. Sometimes I get lots of great ideas. Now, I can take that nugget of information I learned back to work with me and use it where I see it can be used most effectively. This is not a secret. It's why seminars, trade groups, online forums, workshops and conferences are so popular. Invest in your team and broaden their professional sphere of influence. Encourage them to reach out to other business leaders. Give them the time and space to be able to do this. They will be far more motivated and energized. They will also come back with ideas, some of which you have not tried yet in your company. You just may be surprised. Thanks to Forbes, here's a list of Top 100 Ideas And Quotes For First-Time Leaders, a must read.

• Look To Innovators For Inspiration: Looking for inspiration from other innovative minds could be the easiest way to acquire new ideas. I like to do this by reading blogs, eBooks and watching videos. These are not the only ways to learn from the master innovators, but it surely is the least time consuming and simplest way to glean some insight from what they have accomplished. One of my favorite places to go online for innovation inspiration is LinkedIn Pulse. It's full of business owners, leaders, C-level executives and others enumerating on their own insights. It's a must for innovation seekers. Because I continually look around as an innovation seeker, I find this to be very inspirational for my own training, education and ideation.

As a marketer, business leader and innovative thinker, I can't imagine being responsible for driving business results without thinking about and developing new ideas to push us forward into the future and be more competitive.

By challenging the conventional thinking you relied on so heavily, as a business you can begin the ah-ha moment process, which spawns new products, services and processes.

Sometimes it feels threatening to a business to break the mold that so strongly binds their thinking. In order for sustainable growth in your business or even your department to occur, developing new ways of thinking and doing business must take place.