Keeping the presses running. Meeting that crazy deadline…but wait a minute…I think there is a better way to do this! We are always moving forward, pushing boundaries of what is possible.
In a nutshell, this means we never stop moving forward…always improving.
The most obvious reason to keep Innovation top of mind around here is because of how rapidly the industry and our clients’ needs are changing and evolving. If we are not evolving too, we will struggle to be viable. This is the part of innovation that is flashy and appealing and makes for a good sales pitch. As important as it is (and to be sure, this does play a major role for us – for examples of our latest innovations read more here), this is not the innovation I am going to focus on in this blog post; rather on innovation as a means to accomplish and create what is meaningful for us here at Indigo Ink.
The truth is, no matter how much we may want to rely on experience and old ways of doing things, it takes a lot of learning, ingenuity, creative thinking, and continual improvement to pull off what we are trying to do here at Indigo Ink… beautiful print and goodwill for all. We never want to sacrifice quality of product, service, or quality of life. Sadly, quality of life seems to be the first thing to slip when we face challenges… but it is our stubborn instance that we can do better and enjoy life that keeps us striving to move forward and find better and more efficient ways of doing things with high quality results. Like all of The Indigo Ink Qualities, this is a lifelong journey.
What does this look like in practice in our daily work here at Indigo Ink?
This is a big topic that I could spend quite a bit of time on…so in the interest of keeping this brief, I’ll simply point out a few things that top my list.
- Creating space, time, and opportunity for everyone here to communicate and engage in dialog (I could probably stop here and say “Amen”). This is when problems come to the surface and are openly discussed without judgement. This is also a time where everyone on the team can get a better understanding of what everyone else is doing and how everything and every action fit into the big picture. Without this foundation, there is no meaningful innovation.
- Creating space, time, and opportunity for experimentation…and permission for failure (we struggle with our perfectionist tendencies on this, but our curious nature usually overrules our perfectionism). Speaking of curiosity, I should add that this is an indispensable value … only one driven by an intense curiosity is likely to spend countless hours tinkering and experimenting with something like, say, Sliver Metallic Ink, to see how it can be used and how far we can stretch its limitations (on top of her or his already full workload).
- Creating space, time, and opportunity for “working on our work.” Another way of describing this is taking time to think about how we do our work and if there are changes and tweaks in our “system” that might make things easier on ourselves and others on the team. Though Matt and I have been doing this for several years, it’s only recently that others on the team have incorporated this into their routines. In retrospect, I don’t know what took us so long.
At first glance, this might sound a lot more like “culture work” than “innovation.” I’d argue they are so closely related as to be indistinguishable.
You also might have noticed that every point starts with the phrase “create space and opportunity for…” There are many ideals we all strive to live up to. It would be nice if open communication and time for ingenuity and creativity came naturally and easily throughout the day. It doesn’t. Our world is hectic and fast paced. What I have learned is that even for the most brilliant and motivated of people, the only way this happens is through the decision (and the discipline) to intentionally create time and space for this. The rush and never-ending challenge to meet tough deadlines and clients’ needs will always push aside this “other work” unless we schedule this in our daily work. The driving force for this discipline is in seeing how it helps us improve our daily quality of life in the long run…and this takes time and patience.
This is hard work. We fail, we fall off the wagon and we get bogged down in the daily grind just like everyone else. …and then we pick ourselves back up and re-establish these practices into our daily work…again…and again.
During our weekly team talk, I asked this question:
What are some other ways we incorporate innovation and creative thinking into our daily work life here at Indigo Ink?
Here are some responses:
“Asking lots of questions…knowing there are no stupid questions”
“Hearing new perspectives from the newest people on the team”
“Working as a team to shift workloads around in order to create space and time for trying new things and for training/learning opportunities”
Currently, we’re creating space, time, and opportunity to experiment with some exciting new equipment and printing/finishing techniques. As we fine-tune our knowledge and calibrate the technology, stay tuned for an announcement on some very exciting developments in our capabilities.