These are the days of collaborative working, breaking down boundaries, climbing out of silos, and looking elsewhere for inspiration. Whether you’re looking for a new angle on your marketing campaign, striving for that unique factor that will give your business an unbeatable competitive edge, working on the next phase of product development, or just sitting round the table trying to anticipate future customer demands… you need ideas, you need to innovate.
Two ingredients are required for innovative thinking: creative techniques and inspiration. A good assortment of techniques can be found elsewhere, but here are a number of stories and quotations from famous innovators that will act as inspiring fuel for your next ideas session…
Always explore a ‘stupid’ idea before dismissing it…
A Canadian electricity supply company needed to reduce power outages during winter when the snow on the power lines would cause them to collapse. The meeting began with a joke.
“Bring in the bears.”
“How will they help?”
“They could shake the poles and get the snow off.”
“How do we get them to shake the poles?”
“Put honey on the top so they climb up.”
“But how do we get the honey on top of all those poles?”
After a silence someone suggested using a helicopter to airlift honey along the lines, pole to pole.
After a pause they realised they’d found the answer to their problem.
The company now flies helicopters up and down the power lines and the downdraught knocks the snow off.
“Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, you’re absolutely right.”
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”
“You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.”
“Communication is only possible between equals.”
— Robert Anton Wilson
Learn to ask the right questions…
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a man below. He descended a little further and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The man below replied, “You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 42 degrees north latitude and between 58 and 60 degrees west longitude.”
“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.
“I am,” replied the man, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost.”
The man below responded, “You must be a manager.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist, “how did you know?”
“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are exactly in the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”
“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic, that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying, ‘Here comes number seventy-one!”
— Richard M. DeVos
“The problems we have created cannot be solved with the same level of thinking on which they were created.”
— Albert Einstein
“All important decisions are made on the basis of insufficient data.”
— Sheldon Kopp
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”
— Peter Drucker