Personally, and in business, I like to think of Innovation as coming up with completely new ideas that can enhance a situation, change the direction of a project or put a completely different perspective on the way of looking at, or working, on things.
I have heard recently that those who are daydreamers are amongst the most innovative people… Well, that’s me for sure. Right from a young child, I was always daydreaming. My school reports always skirted around it by saying ‘needs to pay more attention in class’. I always wanted to do things in a different way – perhaps that’s why I came across as a difficult child, and never wanting to comply.
I am also a person that picks up on the smallest detail – I am an excellent proofreader and for someone not paying attention, my brain actually sees a lot more information in my surroundings than most…
Both these skills have helped during my employment history.
Many years ago, I went for an interview as a Marketing Assistant for a packaging firm. The interview was relaxed, sitting around a coffee table with all the products strewn across the table surface. I was left for some time before anyone came into the room and I picked up a crisp packet and noticed a few spelling errors.
During the interview, it wasn’t until they asked if I had any further questions that I asked who did their proofreading and did they know that there were mistakes on that packaging? The owner of the company jumped up and shook my hand and said ‘Congratulations the job is yours, you are the only one that has noticed that mistake and openly stated it’. Wow, that was a different approach to interviewing.
Later, when I applied to join the Police force – which entailed a very long recruitment process – during one of the face-to-face elements of the interview, I was shown a video film and then I had to talk through everything that I’d noticed in that film. So, I recalled what I had seen during the various scenarios happening. I didn’t find out until I had feedback some 12 months later when I was successful in being offered the role, that I had gained of the highest scores they had ever seen in that particular exercise … A lot to be said for daydreaming I think!
I was gifted musically throughout my childhood and worked my way up the officially recognised grades to reach the top, Grade 8, in Piano and Cello. Music of course put me into my own world… exactly the same as day-dreaming, and Music has always been a trigger of strong emotions for me. Have you ever watched professional musicians how they are emotionally and deeply engrossed in their performances, oblivious of everything around them; almost on autopilot?
In the work environment, I was one of those that always came up with new ideas first, on what to do with a project or team-building exercise, it just came naturally to me – I thought everyone had the same ‘Talent’. In that scenario, I had to learn to keep quiet, sometimes and back off occasionally to let other people come up with ideas as I was always seen as a ‘know all’ and always speaking out.
Moving into the life of a Registrar, working as part of a very small team – I regularly saw my ideas being passed off as my manager’s. My Manager gained continuous recognition, and nobody knew that the ideas actually came from me.
Looking back when I left Registration, I had had my own HUGE light bulb moment. I used lots of my original ideas in the planning of my friend’s wedding in 2011. I designed, wrote, and delivered as a Mad Hatters tea party theme that was truly sensational. This pathed the way for a new career and freedom to use my own ideas in my own business, setting up Cariad Personal Ceremonies in 2012 where I am able so fortunate to have a whole audience of different couples, planning their momentous wedding ceremony and welcome my fresh ideas to enhance their special occasion.
More recently, during the horrendous COVID lockdown of last year, all my wedding bookings disappeared almost overnight, due to the restriction of celebratory events. This gave me the time and space to work on bringing a truly innovative idea of Harmony Glass, my second business to fruition.
I am surrounded by some wonderful business colleagues that have launched their own business, based on their own innovative ideas, and out of the horror of COVID, has seen a huge increase in those small business’ utilising their skills in moving forward with their own products and innovations, which is wonderful.
Alison Fleming, Harmony Glass
Ali is a member of the Woman Who Achieves Academy.