It’s (still) January. Innovation resolution?

Depending on your fiscal year, January marks a time of new beginnings, the start of the second half of the year, or a cold, dark period in which you don’t yet have your budgets ironed out. In any case, you probably launched the new year with a bunch of resolutions, some of which have to do with your job.

“I will not be negative in meetings. I will be a better leader. I will not snipe at the people in finance (or program or marketing).” You resolved to fix some existing habit or behavior in the office. And by now, resolutions galore have fallen by the wayside.

So what are you doing to create something wholly new?

Innovation can strike anywhere. In India, someone dreamed up the idea of using plastic for paving. The people at Apple constantly cook up the new — they’re paid to do that. Yet all innovations grow from one thing: Resolve. The resolution to find a new way is the key. Can you look at the challenges before you — write them down on paper and literally lay them out on the conference-room table — and come up with a new approach?

Ultimately, this can be pretty simple math. I want to get more people engaged with my organization PLUS there is a new book coming out related to our issues EQUALS a book-tour partnership with a simple table-stand and collateral to engage new audiences. We need new funding streams TIMES all the people who want to volunteer for us EQUALS a new volunteer-engagement strategy that empowers those folks to teach on your organization’s behalf.

The challenge is tackling this systematically: Commit time to defining the challenge, and ask smart brains to help you come up with a solution. Make sure there is good chocolate at the meetings. Don’t dismiss ideas in round one, or maybe even round two. Generate some heat around innovative ideas in these cold winter months.

“I will come up with at least one great new idea this month.”