THREE LESSONS WE CAN LEARN ABOUT INNOVATION FROM BALLOONIST JONATHAN TRAPPE

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Innovation means taking a look at a problem and seeing solutions that no one has ever thought of before.

When considering how to cross the 2,500-mile gap between the United States and Europe, aviator Jonathan Trappe came up with a solution that was both creative and captured our imaginations: balloons.

Like a hero in a Disney film, he set off yesterday from Maine to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a lifeboat attached to 370 giant, helium-filled balloons. While his plan is certainly whimsical, it’s no flight of fancy. He faces hugely challenging conditions during his six-day flight, ranging from severe weather and icy temperatures, to ensuring he can survive until rescue if he is forced to land in open water.

Closer to home, British companies are still facing a brutal economic climate but, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study released this week, those that, like Trappe, embrace innovation are thriving. The firm surveyed senior executives at more than 200 UK companies with average revenues of £1 billion and found that ‘”the UK’s most innovative companies grew on average 50 per cent faster than the least innovative over the last three years.’”

This data confirms that innovation is a driver of growth and that organisations can benefit from embracing a more creative approach to problem solving. Here are three lessons in innovation that we think UK companies can take from intrepid adventurers, like Jonathan Trappe.

1. Adopt innovation as a mindset

Innovative companies recognise that looking at issues from a different perspective takes guts and therefore try to cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their ideas. Rather than waiting for ‘good ideas’ to appear, get into the habit of soliciting feedback around the office whenever possible and encourage managers to praise employees who proactively offer their thoughts on how to improve the business.

2. Support innovative ideas with sound strategy

Sound strategies turn crazy ideas into brilliant ones. Trappe did his homework and spent months preparing for his trip by analysing everything from the perfect time to embark, to the ideal equipment and which experts to work with to overcome the difficult flight conditions. Successful innovation requires commitment and thorough planning to ensure that your company’s next big idea really takes off!

3. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up

As I’m writing this, Trappe has experienced technical difficulties which have forced him to land in Canada and abandon his trans-Atlantic balloon flight. He’s safe and well, but his unexpected landing demonstrates that, despite our best efforts, things don’t always go our way – conditions change, a crisis occurs, unexpected challenges appear on the horizon. Nevertheless, stay the course. Trappe’s heroic effort to cross the Atlantic may be on hold for now, but you can bet he will be back in the skies soon. His example reminds us that by remaining focused on our objectives, making adjustments when necessary and continuing to embrace creative solutions, our business will eventually reap the rewards of innovation.

At Peppermint Soda, we love ideas – and we’re focused on supporting innovation in everything we do. If you have an idea about how to embrace innovation in a creative way, share it with us in the comments section below, or tweet us directly on Twitter @Peppertweets!