What Is Innovation? Part 3 – Putting It All Together


Updated February 14, 2023

The perpetual innovators – how to consistently innovate like a pro

In part 1 of this series, we talked about the difference between creativity and innovation. Creativity is bringing a new perspective to anything and having it add value, and innovation is the process of transforming that creativity into value. Then, in part 2, we talked about the 3 crucial characteristics of every innovative idea – ideas have to be new, they have to be great, and they have to be reliable.

So now, let’s put it all together. How do some companies manage to consistently innovate when so many others fall short?

When all of these criteria come together on a consistent basis, you have what it takes to build an iconic, innovative company. I call these brands and the people behind them Perpetual Innovators.

Perpetual Innovators have a consistent track record of new, great, and reliable ideas. Organizations that are persistent and open to new things welcome experimentation. They understand that every new idea has a height that plays out, and that’s when they identify the next opportunity. They’re able to deliver innovative ideas consistently over a long period of time—decades or even centuries. They get people—both employees and the outside world—excited about what they do, because others want to see what comes around the next corner. These are the Amazons, the Googles, and the Teslas of every industry. They’ve made perpetual innovation something that’s an innate part of their culture.

Before you roll your eyes and think, “Not another reference to how great Amazon, Google, Tesla, etc. is!” Whoa now. Be careful of sinking into the trap of brand detachment disorder. It’s the phenomenon we all experience when we tune out what someone else is waxing poetic about a famous company and we assume it won’t work for us.

“We don’t have the team to pull it off.”

“Our team is too big and can’t be that agile.”

“We have too much bureaucracy.”

“We need more processes.”

Or some other variation of, “That’ll never work here.”

Before tuning out, try instead asking, “How can this work for me?” Or, “What can I learn from this?” It’s by changing our thinking around how the iconic Perpetual Innovators achieve so much, that we can really start to connect the dots and learn how to innovate like the pros.

An example of a perpetual innovator

Look at Netflix, one of the most successful Perpetual Innovators in the history of business.

Netflix started as a front-door DVD delivery service that rivaled movie-rental stores like Blockbuster. As a Perpetual Innovator, the company has grown from subscriptions to a physical product to subscriptions (again) to a streaming platform. It wooed a team of writers and developers so it could deliver original content. The brand created prestige and credibility for itself through shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Netflix continually innovates the experience with new, great, and reliable ideas that remove pain points before subscribers realize they exist.

Don’t want to click to watch the next episode? No problem—Netflix has a six-second countdown that takes away the need to decide. Too impatient to sit through the trailer on each episode of your favorite show? No problem—just click to skip the intro.

How do they know their customers’ pain points so well? Simple. By understanding how, when, and why their customers buy. They know their customers so well, they can anticipate their needs before their customers even know them. They have entire teams dedicated to observing and collecting data on how their customers use their services. They’ve learned to set aside resources to truly observe their customers’ behavior. One such simple skill most companies miss? They talk to their customers. Shocking idea, isn’t it? Yet very few large companies actually do talk to their customers to find out why they buy and what they want. If you want to get ahead in your industry, that’s an easy place to start.

Netflix then sends that customer data to another team whose job is to distill the information into patterns. In other words, they connect the dots. Next, they use those patterns to generate ideas. How many ideas? The more ideas you have, the better chance of having a good idea somewhere in the mix. Finally, they take the best ideas of the bunch and pitch them to the decision-makers at the company. Fair warning, even the best ideas sometimes fail with a so-so pitch. It’s a critical skill too many people overlook.

By using this process, Netflix has revolutionized the way people watch movies and TV shows. Innovative companies like Netflix—the Perpetual Innovators—do this because the leaders of the organization and the employees who work there have a clear definition and understanding of innovation. They’ve not only made it a critical piece of their culture, innovation is also in their brand purpose, mission, and vision. It’s how they manage to innovate even in times of crisis.

So what does this mean for you?

You, the innovator

Consistently delivering new, great, and reliable ideas comes from practicing it so much that it turns the process into a habit. Creativity and critical thinking are like any other muscle—if you want to strengthen it, you have to use it. The more consistently you do anything, the better you get

I travel around the world teaching leaders, teams, and companies my signature Perpetual Innovation ProcessTM. It isn’t magic. Anyone can become a Perpetual Innovator.

You have the ability to become one of the most iconic Perpetual Innovators the world has ever seen. Whether it’s you as an individual, you as a leader in your organization, or your company in the market you serve. Maybe you’re a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or the CEO of a Fortune 50 company. It doesn’t matter.

Regardless of who you are or where you work, you can become a Perpetual Innovator.

If you want to learn more about how to become an iconic Perpetual Innovator, let’s talk. I’d love to come speak about how you can become the household name brand everyone talks about.

Click here to let me know how I can help you become the next iconic household name.

Photo credit: Diva Plavalaguna via Pexels

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.