Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

Thoughts on Innovation

One of the aspects of creativity that can be taken into the workplace is innovation – a huge topic that I’ll be delving into from time to time. Although it is bandied about in intimidating terms, innovation is simply creativity seen in an applied context, and in fact we all do it all the time, in the work-arounds we develop to deal with our daily challenges. 

Creativity Quotes
There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns – Edward de Bono  

When you get a result that you expect, you have another result; but when you get a result that you don’t expect, you have a discovery – Frank Westheimer 

Thoughts on Innovation
Change is often forced on us, when we run into problems with the set methods or tools we use to get something done. Often we find we need a different result from a process, or need to incorporate new methods, materials and even people with different skills. The more comfortable we are with our creativity, the simpler we find it to experiment with finding new solutions. 

Creative exercise forms the basis of innovation. Taking the process of experimenting with different materials and techniques for different effect, creativity makes the leap to “innovation” when we find something that really improves our activity or product in a way that we can apply consistently.  

Because our society seems to believe that only gurus can innovate, we often overlook opportunities to use our own creative abilities. Areas where we are stumped, or experience ongoing frustration are a great place to start – there’s nothing to lose, and if you succeed you not only ease your day, you also grow in confidence to tackle new challenges. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, these questions will set you firmly on the road to innovation: 

  • What can’t be changed? Once you know this, it frees you up to focus elsewhere J 
  • What can be changed? Innovation is typically an adaptation of processes, tools, or both. 
  • Tools & Materials: Are there better / other materials I could be using? 
  • Process: How do other people do similar things? What happens if I change the order around? What steps could I incorporate? What can I leave out? 
  • What impact will the changes I make have? The only way to answer this is to try it out in practice. 

As with all creative exercise, it’s important to leave room for unexpected results. It’s easy to call these ‘flaws’ but often this is where the magic is lying. Asking whether these new developments can be utilized in any way is often the key to unlocking truly new results. And making a note of what works and what doesn’t builds your knowledge for future reference, making the process simpler and more familiar with time. 

Developing an innovative approach is about being comfortable enough with our creativity to accommodate change as it comes, and even be able to initiate it through our creative discoveries, at each stage discovering a little bit more of our creative power.