5 Practical Ways To Becoming More Innovative

Innovation. The ability to create and implement fresh, progressive ideas. This skill is of ever-growing importance in a world where it feels like everything’s already been invented. That is why we’re about to share these 5 practical ways to becoming more innovative

It’s also becoming more and more daunting to step into a space of innovative thinking, for this same reason. It feels like everything has been thought of before. But of course, that’s never the case. 

The good news is, innovation is in fact a very achievable skill that you and I can grow if we put some effort into it. How do we do this, you ask? There’s many tools out there and I’m sure that a couple conversations with the right people could get you started. But the foundation of innovate thinking always boils down to 5, very practical steps. Which I’m about to share with you right now. 

The Autobiography of a Genius

Over the December holiday I tucked into Walter Isaacson’s brilliant autobiography of Leonardo Da Vinci. The book is compelling and insightful. It tells the story of a genius, whose insatiable hunger for observation, curiosity, and imagination, created some of the most exceptional innovation and art ever produced.

We Need That Hunger.

In a world of change we need hunger pains for innovation. We cannot survive by simply following. We need to find the seeds of innovation. ‘Psychologists agree that there are two routes to achievement – conformity and originality. Conformity is following the crowd and originality is taking the road less travelled.’ Adam Grant. But how do we do this?

Human Beings and Human Doers

Here is an interesting exercise. Consider the P words below and identify your favourite and least favourite word.  

I have done this exercise over and over with teams, always asking individuals why they chose the words they did. Purpose and Potential tend to receive the most votes for favourite, whilst least favourite has a runway winner – Procrastination.  

5 Practical Ways To Becoming More Innovative 

But there is something more to this exercise. Do you notice anything significant about the layout of the words?

The words in the left column tend to connect us with execution or doing. They are the words that make up business 101. These words and the concepts they represent form the basis of any credible course on business effectiveness. They represent doing concepts which when done well bring outcomes. 

The words on the right have a different feel. They are less about outcomes and more about feeling and simply being. They connect us to the essence of being human and highlight a most noteworthy thought: we are first and foremost human ‘beings’ and not human ‘doers. All these words have their place, even the most disliked word, “procrastination.” Yes, without a doubt procrastination is the enemy of achievement. But when we use it strategically, it may just produce the extraordinary. When it comes to problem solving and creativity, procrastination used in the right way might just be your greatest ally. 

Where is Innovation Found?

Innovation tends to come from the place of observation and imagination. Innovators tend to combine these attributes and in doing so, notice what others don’t notice, connect dots that others don’t see, and imagine possibilities that others can’t visualize. What column is more likely to produce this? It’s no wonder that when Leonardo was being challenged for being slow in delivering the Last Supper, he responded with a retort that went something like this, ‘The greatest geniuses accomplish more by doing less.’ Not a great line to share with your boss, but certainly a line to ponder when it comes to moving from ordinary thought to extraordinary thought. Da Vinci understood that curiosity needs to be percolated and observation needs to be brewed. Innovation is expensive on the currency of time. 

It’s Counter Intuitive

In a world that has an insatiable need for acceleration, the only way to keep up, is to slow down appropriately. We need to do, and we need action, and we to maximize our resources. But these outcomes rely more and more on upgraded ways of being and believing. This means we need to craft time for observation and imagination.

 What are some practical ways to do this? 

  • Before seeking to solve anything, ask yourself, ‘what’s the right question?’
  • Practice calm – spend a few minutes a day noticing that you are breathing – breathe deeply.
  • Play a game of noticing by calling out to yourself what you see and hear.
  • Become the child by asking ‘I wonder why?’ Follow this with ‘What if…’ Don’t settle for less than 5 answers.
  • Develop a childlike curiosity. Daily, write down a few things that need a little bit of search. Things like, ‘why is the sky blue?’ or ‘how do I increase my influence?’

It’s interesting to note that another genius of our time coined these words in a letter to a friend. ‘You and I never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born. We must be careful to never outgrow our wonder years or to let our children do so.’


Makes you think, doesn’t it?

5 Practical Ways To Becoming More Innovative

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