These ideas about innovation were written in the context of business and marketing. You may disagree with the things I said, but those are genuinely what works for me. If any of the ideas unleashes your creativity, you’d make me one jolly happy fella.
1/ Innovation is a Mindset
If you need to solve a problem bad enough (i.e gun on the head scenario); you will find a hundred new ways to the solution. Often, people give up before even trying, blaming that they are not the ‘innovative’ type. There’s no polite way to put this, but to me, it’s just plain lazy.
2/ Get an iPad…
And learn how to perform Print Screen (press the circle button and the start button on the top right simultaneously). My exposure to magazines, advertisements, books and newspaper has increased a thousand fold (no exaggeration) ever since I adopted this magical device. Each day, I’d zap no less than 10 different articles, be it great advertisements, essays or pictures and share them with my colleagues, clients and friends. 50% of the design of my recent project came from this ‘innovation discipline’. TS Elliot said this well, “Immature poet imitates; Mature poet steals.” The above photo was one of the picture of Harajuku, Tokyo stolen from somewhere I can hardly remember on my iPad.
3/ Get an iPad (part 2)
Reading ignites innovation, end of debate. The question is, how do you optimise your reading materials?
I’ve inherited a new weird hobby since getting my iPad 2. I call it book hopping (like club hopping, you get to avoid the entrance fees by getting in before certain hours… and it’s perfectly legal!). All the first chapters on iBook and Kindles are available for download – FREE! Every single one of them! Some evenings, I’d go through 5 to 10 different titles, reading only their first chapters. Most good non-fictions will provide a synopsis of the entire book in the introduction alone.
Often, I would be prompted to pursue the full version. In the last 3 months, the only hard covers I purchased were: End Malaria / We are all weird – Seth Godin / Anything you want – Derek Sivers, [I have pledged my full allegiance to Seth Godin (through spit and handshake – that will happen one day when we finally meet) and I’d pay full price for all of his books. Check out this cool Domino Projects -they are worth every dollar x100,000]. There is a reason why Borders ceases to operate a year and a half after the first iPad was launched. Sometimes I feel personally responsible for it too…
4/ Look outside your industry
- If you want to learn about Leadership – Watch the Dog Whisperer / Learn from Military Leaders.
- If you want to know about Creativity– Compare notes with top notch Musicians (even better, pick up piano lessons) / Watch the Iron Chef / Ask a Professional Photographer to explain to you about her favorite photos.
- If you want to learn about Customer Service – Exchange ideas with any Award Winning Nurses and Social Workers – their CS is unquestionably better than the best 5 star hotels you’d ever stay and it began from a special place called heart.
- If you want to learn about Team Work – Study how Alex Furgeson manages MU.
- If you want to learn about World War 2 – Spend quality time with your grand mother. Her story will be infinitely more interesting and accurate – Perhaps debatable (I believe in everything grandma tells me).
You get the drift. Do not forget that the business circle is only trivial comparing to the infinite wisdom the rest of the world has to offer. If only you open your eyes.
5/ Get an iPod… (C’mon, it is my small way of paying tribute to His Majesty, Steve Jobs)
I spend roughly 30 minutes per day in the car and another 30 minutes walking Maki (my dog), alone. I do not listen to music, I’ve over 100 talk shows on my iPod at any one time, which I listen to, during those period. Of which, a good 50% are faith related (being alone is one of those sacred moment I get to connect with God), the other half are on current affairs, self improvement and business audio books. The best of the best in the world speak directly to me for at least half an hour a day. How can I not be innovative?
Much were invented before you were born. Even much more were by the people outside of your country (mine, at least). Do not reinvent the wheels, there’s no need to. Just ‘copy’ wisely. The good thing is, you can steal almost any of their great ideas by simply clicking on your Canon Ixus.
6.1 / Go to Japan
God bless Japan. Last year, I wrote about: “If you want to learn about good customer service, go to Japan”. The same can be said of Innovation. Part of the secret for their cutting edge innovation success, I believe, is their readiness to embrace weirdness. Simply walk down Harajuku, and you’d be amazed by the amount of weird people you encounter. Perhaps, like me, you’d realize before long that you yourself are in fact, the weird one, standing out from the crowd.
7/ Go to Ikea
Whenever I ran out of inspiration, I’d take a stroll at Ikea. Everything they do is an epitome of innovation; from the moment you step in the door untill you exit. I can write a blog on the Top 10 Innovation lessons from Ikea alone, but I digress. If you couldn’t care to go and check it out for yourself, no amount of what I have to write would make any difference to your ‘quest for innovation’.
7/ Think Small
If you think innovation is one of those things reserved only for the elite minds such as Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking and Henry Ford, like me, you’d be so discouraged that you’d never invent anything.
Someone* recently suggested that Toilet Paper could be as equally important of an innovation, if not more so. Take a moment, go to the toilet and think about it. There is indeed some truth in the toilet paper metaphor. This has changed my entire perspective towards innovation. I hope it has the same effect on you too.
8/ Diversity Matters
The choice of people you surround with determines the quality of the innovation you produce. The more diverse, the better. Ignore those who say: “Let me play the devil’s advocate for a moment.” Better still, kick them out of the room and fire them! Nothing breaks an idea, a momentum faster than some smart ass who pretends to play the devil’s advocate.
Surround yourself with positive people, people smart enough to challenge you with constructive questions (yes, I’m referring to you, SK). Lastly, get yourself in front of the people who have nothing to do with your business. Their insights may surprise you.
9/ Learn to Rollerblade
A while ago, I picked up rollerblading because my idol, Cesar Milan did it with style on television. I lived near a café street when I was doing it in Perth. Imagine a 30 something guy struggling to maintain balance on the side walk full of people. The point is, if you can withstand the humiliation of falling (and failing) as an adult before a crowd, you can do almost anything. Let alone innovate.
This blog is inspired by one of the most innovative brains I know, *Soon Loo. Thank you for your generosity, lessons and above all, for shifting my mindset.