I’m working on a TV show. As we were fleshing out the concept the other day, the agent said something brilliant…
“Don’t think OUTSIDE the box. Think AROUND the box.”
He was suggesting that in some cases, innovation is best when it is an extension of something people already know and love. Studios will be more likely to invest in such projects because the concept is proven. And audiences are more likely to watch as they can instantly relate to the show. There is a reason why there are so many TV show spin-offs (CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, The Jeffersons), movie sequels (Iron Man, Spider Man, Lethal Weapon), movie remakes (Total Recall, The Hulk, Father of the Bride), or derivative shows (America’s Got Talent, X Factor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol – which, by the way, are all modern-day versions of The Gong Show).
Let’s face it, we are in a risk averse society. For someone to invest in you or your business, they want to know that there is a high likelihood of success. Although it may seem unfair, the best ideas rarely win out.
The same is true inside of organizations. Unless you are a senior leader, the odds are your boss will not want to invest in something that seems too risky. Sometimes the best thing you can do is bring solutions that are extensions of things that have worked in the past. Once you have them hooked, you can then add on the bells and whistles.
Innovation is not invention. And it does not always have to be radical to be successful. Although I am not suggesting that you should only focus on adaptive innovation, sometimes slow and steady can give you a lot of smaller successes. The tried-and-true can sometimes be a very effective way to innovate.
Sometimes it is indeed best to think around the box.