Many of us are not well positioned to gain fresh insights and make new discoveries. We’re not in the right mindset and as Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” So even when we’ve made all the other choices that set us up to innovate, we still have a gap.
Accomplished innovators routinely choose their imagination over their knowledge. They recognize, as Einstein did, that knowledge is limited—and limiting—and they don’t want to be caught unprepared for the inevitable changes and surprises they know they will encounter. They exercise their imagination like an athlete exercises muscles, not because it’s always needed, but because without exercise it won’t be ready to perform at those crucial times when it is needed.
We need to stop stopping ourselves. We’ve been conditioned to suppress our creative impulses and with them our capacity to innovate. When the world was stable and predictable, this may have been adaptive. But none of us lives in that world anymore. We live in a much more dynamic place where we need to constantly learn and unlearn and relearn...
Research and Development has long been at the core of innovation efforts of companies worldwide. While many other innovation tools have since come into use, R & D remains an essential activity—especially in any technology sector. And so it is with individuals.
The way organizations review ideas is no doubt heavily impacted by the mental models people hold. Yet those beliefs are rarely surfaced and examined. One of the primary reasons that one person likes almost any idea, while someone else rejects it, has a great deal to do with the mental models each person holds.
We all carry around a great many mental models and we probably haven’t given much thought to most of them. Yet, they may have a profound effect on how we behave. They impact the way we interact with people and strive to motivate and lead.
What drives innovation (and success generally) is not what someone already knows, but what they’re capable of inventing or discovering, what new insights they can acquire. It’s a willingness to treat existing knowledge as a source of possibilities, rather than conclusions.
In science, there’s always another question. No matter how many questions a good researcher answers, or how much data is gathered, there are always more things to ask. In fact, there seems to be a geometric relationship between answers and questions, with each answer prompting multiple new questions. Richer, more subtle, more complex questions. Sometimes [...]