Friday, 24 August 2012

Innovation Comes Through An Inquiring Mind

Out there in the big wide world, people have broken boundaries in exploration, creative thinking, science, transport, space and many more environments. Combine that with the relentless questioning from a young child of why, how, where or what? At what stage in life do we start accepting the status quo and why do we? Shouldn't it be part of life's excitement to retain our curiosity and seek to develop an inquiring mind? Beyond that, isn't it those with lifelong curiosity that break business boundaries, innovate and lead creatively and courageously?

An inquiring mind can be likened to being curious. It starts with a sense of wonder, but beyond that it is the desire to understand something, to create something new or solve a problem. In the words of John Sculley (former CEO of Apple) “Curiosity is wanting to understand something that you don't know something about; and hopefully a lot of other people don't either because it means you can really break new ground.”

Another quote I like about curiosity is from Jaron Lanier (Computer Scientist, Composer, Visual Artist and Author) “Curiosity is the fact that our minds are verbs and not nouns, that we're in motion, that we're self inventing, that we're seeking, that we don't know what our destination is, that we're reinventing ourselves.”

A rare breed of individual never gets out of practice. It's easy to find them; they're the most satisfied, ingenious and high achieving. Four distinguishing traits work in tandem to set them apart: awareness, curiosity, focus, and initiative – they're the innovators and they have developed an inquiring mind.

Innovation is the direct consequence of curiosity. It allows us to start with a blank piece of canvas, creating, innovating, evolving an idea. Building on successes in the past, but also not being afraid to challenge, raise expectations and quite often be a maverick. It transforms us all into designers, the opportunity to create new approaches to problems, to transform a business model, a product or service into something better, or perhaps into something entirely different. It requires us to look at things in more than one way, because it is the only way you get a new insight into a problem.

As a call to innovate, it's time to challenge yourself:
  1. Challenge and ask yourself if you wanted to improve the environment for innovation, what specifically you can do in your current role to cultivate that culture?
  2. Go beyond what's expected, stretch yourself beyond your current environment
  3. Understand the big picture, and incorporate it into your day to day decisions and solutions. Always think for long term, think for future.
  4. Don’t be afraid. Learn to deal with your fear.
  5. Innovation always involves risk. Innovation always brings change. Be ready.

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