Companies that are heading for trouble have passive cultures and tend to spend a lot of time in meetings.

In my experience, if internal teams are conducting an excessive number of meetings and the people in the meetings are talking a lot (and I mean talking excessively without really saying anything) - that's a good indicator that innovation in that company is largely absent.

Innovation - the act of people implementing new ideas to create value - requires action. Just having clever ideas and talking about them isn't going to crack it. Insight as to the effectiveness of new innovations can really only be gained by doing and reflecting on what was discovered in the process - not by just talking about it.

For this reason - more of a focus needs to be put on action (the keys to inspiring action consistently) within the greater exploration into innovation.

So how can you become more action-orientated?

  • Think big, start small: Small wins are the lifeblood of getting a big project off the ground. If you are starting a massive new project, make sure that you build in the opportunity to record quick wins right from the get-go so that people can see that they are making progress.
  • Break big projects into smaller pieces: Instead of looking at the daunting task of completing the entire project with no clear breaks, divide big projects up into much smaller milestones and tackle each milestone at a time. Long journeys are make up of thousands of steps - just focus you attention on the next step.
  • Focus on just one thing at a time: It was management guru, Peter Drucker, who said; "If there is any one "secret" of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time." Multitasking is a myth - focus on one thing at a time and get it done. Turn your phone off, shut down access to your mail and commit to not doing anything else until the immediate task is done.
  • Don't worry about having the perfect plan: Don't worry about only getting going only once you have uncovered the perfect route - there is no such thing, Just start. Even if for some time you travel in the wrong direction - at least you are moving forward. You can change direction easily as you understand where you are heading better, but the trick it to get going.
  • You want to focus on building momentum: If you want to run a marathon one day, but you are fat and lazy and have never run a 5km race in your life - then just start by walking everyday. The simple act of getting into your exercise gear and walking out of the house with purpose will create the needed momentum to get you to a point where you can then start to run. But the key is in the building of momentum.

Building a better future requires action. You can always find a million reasons as to why you should procrastinate - but the only currency that counts in the innovation game is action. Start now!