Continuous improvement is all about the fine balance between craftiness and money. Advancement can be achieved by simply spending more money, however continuous improvement requires intelligence and craftiness. — Taiichi Ohno

Be it problem solving or innovation, you are always better off served by focusing on your creativity and cognitive prowess instead of merely throwing more money at the matter at hand.

That way you'll create something of value, while also developing your own skills. If you always default to spending money, then you might be covering the true root cause of the problem or investing in a poor idea. Both scenarios would lead to waste of time and money.

Next time you catch yourself lamenting that you need a bigger budget, embrace the constraint and reframe your issue. Here are few examples:

  • Instead of "If we had a budget of $$$, we could develop the pilot to test with the customer," ask yourself "What is the smallest thing we can develop, with the budget we have, in order to test the customer's reaction?"
  • Instead of "If we hired three more people, we could deliver this project on time," ask yourself "How can we deliver this project on time with the people we have right now?"
  • Instead of "If we had more time, then we could afford to look for new and innovative ideas to invest in," ask yourself "How can we identify new and innovative ideas within the existing time limitations?"

Here's an exercise for you; best to do it on a single piece of paper.

Think of your own situation, and re-frame it in three different ways. Then write three ideas for each. Entertain those that rely more on skill and craftiness, and then discuss them with your peers. Pick the most promising one, and try it out in the cheapest and fastest way possible. That's all you need to begin with.

If you'd like to learn more ways to to think and act on innovation, check out the workshop I'm organising on November 26th:

Fearless Innovation
Fearless Innovation workshop with Bruno Pešec.