“Fresh insightful connections.”
That’s how Rishad Tobaccowala defines innovation in a terrific post today called Becoming Innovative.
I think this is a great way to think about innovation. I’ve already said that connecting ideas is the fundamental creative act in innovation, so it was great to see Rishad say this:
Connections is a about the process where the human mind takes the same letters of the alphabet but puts them together in a unique way to create something that far more compelling than the parts that went before. All the components for innovation existed. The magic was in the connecting.
He says an amazing amount in those few words. Innovative ideas come from connecting components that already exist, and it is the connecting that creates the new idea.
Here’s an idea for today – think about a problem that’s been giving you trouble. Find a new way of thinking about it by making a new connection. One very good way to do this is get outside of your normal routine. Ben Casnocha lists 50 ideas for doing this from Tom Peters. My challenge for you today – pick one thing on this list and do it.
What have you got to lose? Remember, connecting ideas is the foundation of innovation, so anything that helps you make novel connections will make you more innovative.
Here are some of my favourites:
- You run across somebody interesting. As a matter of course, ask her (him) what’s the best thing she/he’s read in the last 90 days. Order it from Amazon.com . . . this afternoon.
- Take tomorrow afternoon off. Rain or shine. Wander a corner of the city you’ve never explored before.
- Read a provocative article in a business journal. Triggers a thought? E-mail the author. So what if you never hear back? (The odds are actually pretty high that you will. Trust me.)
- A crummy little assignment comes along. But it would give you a chance to work with a group of people you’ve never worked with before. Take the assignment.
- There’s a great ball game on ESPN in an hour. Forget it. Go on that walk you love . . . that you haven’t taken for a year.
- Buy that surprisingly colorful outfit you saw yesterday. Wear it to work. Tomorrow.
That’s just a few suggestions. Pick one of them, pick another one, make one up yourself. But one way or another, do something that introduces new connections into your routine today.