Newton did it lounging under an apple tree. Archimedes did it soaking in a bathtub. Einstein did it while shaving. Those are the settings in which these great minds did their best thinking (at least according to legend). The common theme is that they were in the state of relaxed concentration. Rather than sit at your desk hammering away at a problem, it is often wise to let your mind wander. In his terrific book The Element Sir Ken Robinson describes the process:
We tell our clients to select an idea first for newness, second for appeal, and last for feasibility. Why? Because real breakthrough innovation has to have a very high level of newness owing to the fact that newness cannot be built in to an idea. The newness of an idea can and will only move in one direction, it’s a fleeting thing. Appeal is important for traction but doesn’t have to be widespread (it won’t be if it’s truly new, people are afraid of what’s new). Moving an idea forward requires support and to get that initial support some amount of appeal is a necessity. Feasibility, unlike Newness, can be built into an idea via some well-managed creative problem solving (that’s another post). By beginning with a high level of newness, a acceptable level of appeal, and a moderate-to-low sense of an idea’s feasibility, you can end up with an idea that scores high on all three spectra, sacrificing only a minimal amount of newness in improving the feasibility. Then you’re on your way to real breakthrough innovation!
Bon Friday to our favorite blog readers!
We all like to believe that we are pretty good judges of ideas. We think we can objectively evaluate an idea based on its merits and recognize a creative solution, an innovative breakthrough, or a smart decision. When it comes to spotting the brilliant idea, we, like Potter Stewart, believe we know it when we see it.
In case you missed them, here are our picks for the Top 10 Tweets for the month of April (a slight twist on Top 10 Retweets, but isn't that what innovation is about, change?)