What Is Innovation?

Innovation is like light. For ages, scientists have debated what light really is. Is it a wave, a particle, or both? 

Innovation, likewise, is tricky to define. Is it a noun, or a verb? Is it a process? Or, is it people? Recently, The Harvard Business Review searched their archive to shed some light on this "chicken or egg" puzzle.

Innovation can be defined in various ways, but what it it really? Ultimately, innovation is a practice done by people. However, it's not just DNA. It can be learned. Furthermore, innovation is more of a verb than a noun. It’s a verb that produces nouns.

The Best Innovation is Done on Napkins

Recently I tried something really different at one of my workshops. To demonstrate the versatility of the 30 Minute Innovation method, which can be done with high tech, or even low tech methods, we wrote our ideas on actual napkins! Yes, the best ideas really are written on napkins.


Innovators Must Let It Go

As human beings, we crave stability and equilibrium. Like Aesop, we tend to believe that slow and steady wins the race.

For innovation, however, slow and steady does not win the race. Focused intensity does–like the martial arts expert breaking a stack of boards or bricks. Furthermore, change is fuel for the innovation engine. Innovators understand that stability and equilibrium are the path to the dark side.

Heraclitus, the ancient philosopher, was the teacher of change. He taught that everything is in flux.


Brainstorming: Friend or Foe?

We’ve all been there. The boss asks, “Who has a good idea?” A few vocal people speak up and dominate the discussion for most of the meeting, while the rest of the participants remain mostly quiet. Ideas are evaluated and rejected as soon as they are proposed. The meeting ends without an action plan, and nothing really happens afterwards. That’s a recipe for a disastrous and frustrating brainstorming session.

The practice of brainstorming has come under criticism lately, and rightly so.

David vs. Goliath Innovation Smackdown

“Small businesses are nimble and bold and can often teach much larger companies a thing or two about innovations that can change entire industries.” - Richard Branson

In an article for Entrepreneur magazine entitled “5 Ways Small Companies Can Out-Innovate Big Corporations,” Steve Sponseller demonstrates how innovation isn’t just for the big guys. In fact, smaller businesses may have the advantage when it comes to innovation.

According to Sponseller, the innovative advantages of small businesses include agility, responsiveness to opportunity, collaboration, alignment, and measurement.