Making the Speaking Business More Customer Focused

The 4 Key Steps to Innovate Personally & Professionally


About Sterling Hawkins

Sterling Hawkins is out to break the status quo to create what’s actually possible for humanity in our time. He has spent his career igniting new views and inspiring people to act on them. He is an internationally-recognized thought leader and top-rated keynote speaker on innovation, transformational leadership and exponential growth. His keynotes share meaningful strategies to drive change – delivered with the inspiration to leave attendees in action.


To step into the Innovation Gap™ requires us to embrace discomfort. But not discomfort alone. It requires a continuous cycle of striving for greater growth. An Innovation Cycle. 

We all go through cycles in life. They’re all around us and we’re in the middle of these cycles, whether we’re present to them or not. There are the big cycles of life and death. Day and night. Business cycles, like paying people every two weeks, or taking a vacation every June. And personally — doing laundry every week, or even brushing your teeth a few times a day. For most of us anyway 😉

We take part in cycles all around us and these cycles make us who we are. And what’s more, they’re giving us the results that we have. If we’re committed to significant positive gain, shouldn’t we have a cyclic process for that, as well? Warren Buffett said “an idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan.” Even better, an idiot with an innovation cycle will beat a genius with even the best idea. 

We unpacked the Innovation Cycle at the Corcentric Leadership Symposium in Orlando, FL last week to rave reviews. I spoke along with Josh Linkner, Jim Collins and Verne Harnish.

The Innovation Cycle is something you can really see in action at companies like Amazon and Google. Where through a cycle of innovation and iteration these companies intentionally aim to continuously improve upon things that are working satisfactorily to get even better results. It’s what we use with our clients, and can choose to use in our own lives when we want to achieve greater accomplishments, improve something or make an intentional difference. The ironic thing is that although we’re all going through the same steps, oftentimes we’re just not using them effectively, or we may be unwittingly cutting corners that may be hindering us from getting our best result. 

At the simplest level there are 4 steps:

  1. Source: The first thing is assessing what you have and sourcing possibilities. Plural. Speculation on “what might be”. Or “what it might be like if”. 
  2. Curate: Then, to realize innovation, there’s the dichotomy where you may have to sacrifice the potential of possibilities for the frame of actuality. 
  3. Act: It then requires we act (not chase busywork to avoid discomfort of doing what’ll make the difference). Implementing on each singular possibility towards innovation to make it real.
  4. Measure: We then need to look at the results and share them, before doing the whole thing over and over again to determine actual effectiveness.

It’s the cycle that makes the company. Not the products. Not the solutions. It’s how people in the company move through cycles of continuous improvements to make what they’re doing better, leaner, faster and stronger.  


To Learn more about Sterling contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]