4.4 Planting the seeds of innovation
EGL Newsletter Volume 4.4
The seasons change as we move into spring. For me, the transition into spring means a change in the focus of goals and intentions. It is a time of renewal, new ideas, and new directions. May this season be full of creative energy for you. In the spirit of the season, this offering focuses on some things a leader can do to promote creativity and innovation in themselves and others.
One item that I propose you consider in this requires a story about myself and a thought leader who had a great impact on me. I was 19, in University, and having the intellectual time of my life. The course was an intro Philosophy course, and the professor (whom some you will know) was Dr. George Wall. He was a great thinker and a gently provocative spirit. At any rate, he was clear about his own philosophy of thought and encouraged others to get clear about theirs.
Dr. Wall taught one item that you wouldn’t find in the textbooks, and he called it “Wall’s Law”. It stated simply this: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” What a great premise. In case that doesn’t translate well, it just means that whatever I think is good for others to do must be good for me as well. Quite obviously, George had a lasting impression on me with that one, as well as many others.
So, you might ask, what’s the point of this with creativity and innovation? It is quite simple. Leaders are continually looking for ways to bring things about in their team, in their community, or in their organization. My point is to follow Wall’s Law. The first piece of promoting creativity and innovation in others is to find it in yourself. What works for others works for you, and vice versa.
With that and the beginning rush of spring, here are some ways that you can foster the generative energy of creativity and innovation.
Take a few minutes, take some notes, and change your life.
Planting the seeds of innovation
When we look at the literature on innovation, it is abundantly clear that there is no clear definition of how it applies in business. However, it can be generally thought of, in the business world, of moving from an idea to value realization as quickly as possible.
For our personal lives, innovation may be slightly different. It can be just figuring out more ways to spend our time pursuing our personal mission. Or, it can be simply finding creative ways to feel passionate and inspired.
Here are some techniques you can explore.
Leave the past behind – The great Einstein quote is “you can never solve your problems from the same thinking that created them”. Take this a step further and take some time leaving your habitual ways of thinking behind. Just notice when you are thinking repetitive thoughts. From a creation standpoint, if you think about the same things today that you thought about yesterday, then tomorrow will probably be a lot like today.
Be curious – Imagine a child-like wonder in how you approach each part of the day. Look for what you haven’t noticed in your daily engagements. This can be particularly powerful in areas where you may respond almost automatically to events. Stop yourself and notice what is really going on. Just a moment of opening can elicit new ideas and opportunities.
Have time – Innovation is about the space of opportunity at the beginning of the day. What if you created an equivalent amount of time for yourself to metaphorically watch the break of day and be open to possibilities. Be ready to change gears, reprioritize, and move in a new direction.
Use your best energy – Before you begin any activity, take a moment to become present with how you want to approach it. Do you want it to feel like a chore? Draining? Do you want it to feel like a refreshing past-time? Invigorating? Choice, then allow yourself to feel that before you begin. Everything you do will be done better, and you will enjoy yourself much, much more.
Use your best time of the day – Each of us has a best time of the day. Some do their best thinking in the middle of the night, others in the middle of the day. Whatever that time is for you, commit to opening that time of day up for creativity sessions. When you need your most creative thoughts, time them with your personal rhythms to get the best impact.
Reconfigure your workspace – Think of spring cleaning as a time to eliminate things around you that hold your attention on old thoughts. Surround yourself with items that remind you of how you feel when you are at your best.