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Innovating with a Small i!

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Fostering a focus on ongoing improvement

By Jess Chapman

“The only constant is change.” Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said that in 475 BCE, but it’s no less true today. For business owners and entrepreneurs, handling change, pivoting, and driving innovation are core to how we work, especially over the past year! When we think of innovation, we often think of massive changes, but innovation does not have to be that way. That is where the notion of continuous improvement comes in.

Constantly refining and improving how we do things in a proactive way can help increase success with less stress on our teams.

We launched a new arm to the business, Ethree Online, last year. As we offered new services with a significant technology focus, we’ve had to learn to innovate with a small i! For a business owner wearing too many hats, the idea of incremental change seemed preferable to handling big innovation. So, if you’re thinking that continuous improvement might work for you, here are three things that helped us.

01 | Try “what iffing”

This is about pondering possible scenarios, asking ourselves “what if…” Asking yourself “what if this happened” or “what if this no longer happened” can transform your view, helping you to generate ideas, opportunities and risk-mitigation actions. Sometimes this leads to worry, so it can help to look at worst-case scenarios, best-case scenarios, and likely outcomes for each scenario so you don’t get too stuck.

02 | Create regular space for insights

An insight refers to a clear, deep (sometimes sudden) understanding of a situation. There are two key ingredients for insight—the experience to make the connections in your brain and the space to reflect on them. Early in my career I worked for Unilever, which encouraged “insight experiences.” For example, the Axe team would go out for a night on the town with a bunch of teenage boys . . . Quite eye-opening, I can tell you! I’m not suggesting you need to go that far, but the principle applies. When do you have new experiences that generate insights? And, given how our brains work, it’s hard to have insights when we are running full tilt, so creating space to reflect on those experiences when you are relaxed and reflective is key.

03 | Plan in increments and iterate

There’s an old adage in the tech world: “don’t wait to make it perfect—go for it first and then improve.” Doing things in increments (in small pieces) makes it easier to get traction and build momentum for change. By iterating an idea or solution, you move increasingly closer to the ideal, and you can handle minor changes as you go. We most commonly think of iteration when it comes to software, but there’s no reason it can’t apply to processes, practices, or anything work-related. Rather than looking for perfection, can you make small changes now that get you closer to the ideal?

The additional benefit of all of these practices is the mindset they create: change is normal; improvement is part of everyone’s job, and anyone can do it. That mindset is beneficial if you do have to face a big change (like a global pandemic for example!), so ask yourself: what benefit might continuous improvement have for your organization?

At ethree we help people work better together and make work better together! From coaching and training to our consulting solutions, if you think we can help you and your organization, just get in touch. We are always happy to help!


Jess Chapman

As Principal of ethree Consulting, Jess specializes in helping organizations unlock the power of people to drive exceptional business results.

Jess has a unique combination of skills and experience that is hard to beat. With a background in HR, organizational performance, and learning and development, she also has training in neuroscience and over a decade of experience working in different countries, a variety of industries, and some of the largest organizations in the world.

Jess is known for her ability to “read minds,” deliver creative yet practical solutions, and “just get it,” and working with ethree is an all-round “phenomenal experience,” according to their clients.

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