Where do good ideas come from? (3)

“Launching a new enterprise (…) has always been a hit or miss proposition (…) 75% of all start-ups fail. But recently an important countervailing force has emerged, one that can make the process of starting a company less risky. It’s a methodology called the “lean start-up,” an it favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development. Although the methodology is just a few years old, its concepts – such as “minimum viable product” and “pivoting”  – have quickly taken root in the start-up world.” – Why the Lean Start-up Changes Everything” by Steve Blank.

“Although the experience of insight is sudden and can seem disconnected from the immediately preceding thought, these studies show that insight is the culmination of a series of brain states and processes operating at different time scales (…) if we want to be creative, we have to be dedicated.” – Adapted from “Creativity Is Really Just Persistence, And Science Can Prove It” by Drake Baer.


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In my previous article I outlined 40+ items. All of them have to do with “exploring and experimenting,” which I believe to be corner stones of research and, hence, innovation engines. There is no denying that intuitive, casual and even accidental discoveries happen. Though, business wise, we need to figure out what it takes to engage in serial innovativeness. This is required to “cross the chasm” and to further an enterprise’s relevance and value.

As shared in an earlier article, we need to think and to connect the dots across (a) opportunities to support today’s business and to keep working on (c) creating the future. This makes sense whether we are involved in agile projects prompting short cycles or in long term research and development impacted by moving targets.

In my view, both assignments are clearly interrelated and share the need for analytical skills, devoting research efforts and, therefore, “exploration and experimentation” coupled with unconventional problem solving. This is what develops and nurtures creative thinking to a point at which it becomes an individual talent and an organizational asset.

I would also like to add that it pays to step back every once in a while to intellectualize our thought processes and frameworks we work with. This actually requires a curious and contemplative mind, one that reflects on what happens in context. It helps putting oneself in situations where we need to debrief on lessons learned and workflows. The basic objectives being:

  • promoting – raising awareness, gathering feedback and allowing cross-pollination in the process
  • propping – leveraging and refining what works well, understanding trade-offs between potential an limitations
  • recycling – continuing to improve upon experiences and salvaging good ideas from failures and oblivion
  • navigating – assessing contexts, options, directions, and adjusting course and speed to address whether upstream or shifting environments

Moreover, for good ideas to take off persuasive communication skills and marketing tools happen to be of the essence. From an operations management standpoint, innovativeness also has to do with creating an organizational culture, a distinctive work style where guiding principles happen to be more effective than sticking to strict processes alone. The fact is that creativeness and freedom go hand by hand. By the same token, execution and discipline are inseparable.


“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.” – Peter Tchaikovsky.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso.

“If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn’t call it research.” – Albert Einstein.

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