A simple approach to innovation

Kayaking doesn’t seem like the hardest thing in the world. A bit of balance, a bit of arm muscle and some good size waves. It doesn’t seem like a tasking activity. That’s until you met me. Let me paint you an accurate picture.

It’s sunny, I’ve hit the beach with my family and I’m in the sea. I’m coughing up water, I’m on my fourth attempt to get on the damn boat and my stomach is starting to kill from being thrashed about in the waves.

Imagine Baywatch.

Now think the opposite.

So I get on the boat (does it count as a boat? Oh,I don’t know!) and get the paddles into position, and I’m off (kind of?). I can confirm that it’s a pretty sad sight. The only way I can describe it is to think of a grown woman with the enthusiasm of a wide-eyed toddler pedalling on the spot.

[Tweet "I am not moving. I'm digging the oar in"]

And I’m not moving.

The harder I try, the harder it gets.

It’s pretty funny by this point. I can barely see beyond my life jacket and I’m quite certain that I’ve got my yearly salt intake in just a couple of mouthfuls.

My Dad meanwhile appears to be on some great voyage, having done a marathon style escape in his kayak, and my partner is bobbing up and down looking vaguely bemused.

I’m wracking my brain trying to think of why it’s not working. I’m moving the oar, higher, lower, to the side a bit, everything short of sitting on it.

I’m thinking of all these new fanangled methods to move forward and none of them are working.

After giving up for a while and sunbathing in the kayak (much nicer ), I try again, this time without all of the effort and without trying to find new techniques.

And it works.

I’m gliding the oars in the water, sailing along, I’m moving, life is amazing, I’m going to be in the next Olympics… (not quite).

Then it came to me.

What I had succeeded in doing while flailing around, was complicating the process to the point that I was stuck and out of ideas.

And Isn’t this what we all do at some point or another?

In an attempt to be original and innovative, we can overlook the simple.

We can complicate things to the point that we don’t know up from down. We get frustrated, we start to doubt ourselves and we wonder why things aren’t slotting into space.

It’s not always about doing something in a way that it’s not been done before.

What seems easy and obvious to us, would never occur to a lot of people.

And a lot of the time, the most obvious way of doing something isn't done well, or done at all, because people are trying to be too clever.

So, whatever you're stuck on right now, think about what the most obvious solution would be. Don't just think of innovation and trying new things.

And try it.

You never know where it might get you.