Innovation happens at the edges and in simplicity

There is so much talk about “innovation” and “winning the future” in the technology and business world that those ideas are becoming cliche.  What is not talked about is HOW you innovate and what the process of creativity is.  
From my readings and observations there are a handful of things that spur change:

Working at the edges
– one of the great ways to find the new is to go to the edge of what is currently possible and step over that line.  To open the door of possibility to what’s next.  Inventors and artists stand on the shoulders of what has come before in order to make new ideas stick. Radio could not have exisited without telegraph, television without radio and on and on.  Find the edge or possible and solve new problem.

Make the complex simple
– This is Apple’s great method.  Through designing for simplicity they take existing ideas and make them simple.  Digital music players existed before the iPod, tablet PC’s existed before the iPad and Apple worked at simplifying those products to bring them to the masses.  The best way to do this for your projects is to set parameters or rules and not break them.  If you are building a website set the parameter that there will be only 10 links per page, if you are designing a device, there will be only one switch or set a hard budget of only $500. Constraints force simplicity.

It takes hard, steady work to be creative
– in the excellent series on the brain that Charlie Rose hosted, Chuck Close, the portrait painter said there are no eureka or epiphany moments in his creative process.  All creative innovation in his view is from working, working hard every day to create.  This is born out in writing as well, the number one advice for writers is to write, every day in a structured manner.  This is true for creating great product and services. We have to work at innovating every day.  Read an extra book, find a new blog, write a new story.  Work at it and what appears to have been a eureka moment will really have taken hours and hours of work.

Go outside of your normal
– in order to push new ideas we need to have varied opinions.  If you always work with engineers, you’ll get ideas and solutions that engineers think of or if you only ask business minded folks, you’ll get ideas that business folks are likely to have.  When brain storming you should have as many varied ideas as possible. When you have your kick off meeting bring in everyone,  business people,  customer service people,  ad operations, designers or your mom! Everyone brings a unique perspective to the table,  Try and go outside of your own knowledge base.  Sure, you know everything there is to know about the mobile phones?  How about you spend the week learning about cooking stir-fry?  By changing what you normally do, you may stimulate your brain and have one of those Dr. House moments when it all comes together.

What do you do to find ideas,  where does your innovative inspiration come from?  For me it’s reading, what about you?


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By Laurent Courtines

I'm here and I am ready to go. Been doing my homework and I have things to say.

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