Six Ways To Spark Innovation
Anatomically, an average adult human brain has about 100 billion cells. Time-wise, we all work with 1,440 minutes in a day. But why is it that the likes of Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, given the same limitations, can produce seemingly superhuman results in their endeavors? How is it that they push the limit, question the status quo and innovate mind-blowing products that revolutionize an entire industry?
Are you the type whose eyes roll when someone says, “But it’s always been this way,” or “ This is how it’s been done for ages”? If a voice inside you revolts when you hear these comments, chances are, you have the makings of an innovator.
To spark your curiosity and jump-start your inner genius, here are six tips to inspire innovation.
1. Find a problem you feel passionate about solving.
Be obsessed with it. The more you lose sleep over the dilemma, the better. The desire has to be compelling enough for this to work. For Henry Ford, it was wanting to find a faster way to manufacture goods. For Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, it was wanting to help women feel more confident in their clothes. Whatever problem you want to solve, there’s probably a workaround for it. Finding the workaround is key. Start there.
2. Observe people’s struggles, and pay attention to their complaints.
Seek to simplify. Imagine the world without microwave ovens or smartphones. Ask yourself if there is a way to cut a process’s time in half. Can efficiency be improved? Can the cost be reduced?
3. Conduct a focus group.
What is the pulse of your sample consumers? Catalog their responses. Find a common denominator or discrepancy. Keep compiling and analyzing data. But be cautious not to over-analyze. Remember, over-analysis leads to paralysis.
4. Seek advice from industry experts, but continue to question their findings.
Yes, engineers, scientists and mathematicians will have their valuable input. But never take anything at face value. It’s up to you to see beyond the data and to crack the proverbial code. Keep asking these questions: Is there a better way? Why? Why not? How can it be improved?
5. Embrace trial and error.
Let your passion fuel your stick-to-it mindset. As a Chinese proverb says, “Persistence can grind an iron beam down into a needle.”
6. Trust your insight.
Follow your gut. If you’re in uncharted territory, chances are, no one has dared to, or some may have, but failed. Your own judgment and gut will be your compass. Trust it. Listen to the voice inside you. Meditate. Be open to receiving inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Don’t limit yourself. Steve Jobs once said, “I think the artistry is in having an insight into what one sees around them. Generally putting things together in a way no one else has before and finding a way to express that to other people who don’t have that insight.”
Be unstoppable in your quest. No one will believe in your dream as much as you do.
So, when was the last time you got frustrated with or complained about something? Maybe that’s your clue. Don’t ignore it. If you feel like you can’t live without your smartphone, imagine if Steve Jobs had just stuck with working for Atari.