5 Ways To Trigger Innovation in 2018

With the new year beginning, it may be time to look at development in a new way.

Last Updated: January 1st, 2018 • Opinion •
Sideview of a calendar

Ahh...do you smell that?

It's 2018...the year of innovation!

According to Google, innovation has two definitions:

  1. Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
  2. Introduce (something new, especially a product).

By nature, I believe developers always have some kind of innovative blood in them whether it's a full-blown innovation machine or only has 1/32 innovative blood in them. ;-)

We do it every day when we write code. We have to come up with concepts and techniques to achieve a specific goal using our digital canvas.

We make changes in something established (by refactoring) and we could possibly introduce new ideas and techniques in code that could turn into a product one day.

While that's all well and good, how do you innovate as an entrepreneur/developer?

Where do you find innovation?

In today's post, I wanted to cover five ways you could trigger innovation to create your own product.

Let's get this innovative 2018 moving!

1. Read More

Always be reading a magazine, blogs, the news, books...whatever you can get your hands on to expand your brain. The reason you want to read is to examine different angles of knowledge and apply them through code.

But not just examining the different angles. Reading triggers the weirdest thoughts.

It's amazing how the brain works. How one insignificant and irrelevant thought could trigger something so powerful to lead you down a path of creativity and innovation and, inevitably, start the wheels of an idea, or better yet, a possible product.

One minute, you could be reading about the benefits of pizza, and the next minute, you come up with a brand new dietary plan involving only crust.

2. Keep Your Ears and Eyes Open

You never know when innovation will strike so be aware of the following signs:

"You know what I hate/need..."

"What if you could..."

"How do I..."

The start of these phrases should trigger a different manner of thinking like "How do I/could I solve these problems?"

Once you have a common problem, think of an innovative way to solve it.

Solve a problem, make a fortune.

3. When Everybody Zigs...

I don't want to sound all "Morpheus," but sometimes, if everyone is going in one direction, it may help to go in a different direction to get a better perspective on the idea or concept.

The concept of Zagging when everyone else is Zigging is from a book I read from my Reading Corner called Zag.

For example, Uber and Lyft require regular drivers, not taxis. It was a different approach to a common, everyday process. They just made it simpler and eliminated the maintenance of vehicles.

4. Don't Recreate The Wheel, Make It Better

This has to be the most well-known phrase an entrepreneur hears every single day:

"I was going to build this, but such-and-such already built it. Oh well."

Over the past month, I've ran into three individuals who uttered this exact sentence (one wasn't a developer).

This should not translate to "give up." This should scream three things to you:

  1. You are on the right track. If one person is doing this, there must be a market for it.
  2. You may have something in your product that they don't. Provide as much value as you can in your product. Who knows...you may even steal them away from your competitor.
  3. You are not alone. When the Internet was gaining traction in the 90's, do you think Google looked at the other search engines like Alta Vista, Lycos, and Yahoo and said, "Hmm...there is already way too many search engines out there. Let's think of something else."? No, they didn't. They built their company on something that existed and made it better.

There are other ways to build up your existing product by giving it a facelift, an enhancement, or taking a complex problem and showing the easier way to do it.

5. The Simplest Idea Can Spark A Wealth Of Innovation

You never know when one tiny little idea or concept could create such a disruption.

Ask Jesse James Garrett. Who would've thought looking at one method in JavaScript could spark an entire industry?

I'm talking about the XMLHttpRequest.

I remember reading this post in 2005 and how it changed web development from this point forward. In JavaScript, you could call "Web APIs" without posting back data or performing a page refresh? Oh YEAH!

We wouldn't have SPAs (Single Page Applications) without AJAX.

We wouldn't have Service Workers without AJAX.

A simple method changed the future of the Internet and provided innovation for web developers.

Don't take the smallest idea for granted. You never know where it could lead.

Conclusion

I've covered only five ways to innovate this year, but I'm sure there are others.

How will you innovate in 2018?

Do you have a sidehustle project? Will someone pay you for it so you can retire on a sandy beach with a margarita ("No salt. I said no salt!").

Do you have a way to innovate? Did you create something extraordinary that will grow in 2018? Post your comments below and let's discuss.

Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

comments powered by Disqus