11 Practical Ideas for Personal Innovation

By Jatin DeSai Print this article Print

How to build self-improvement into your already overcrowded schedule.

Without motivation, permanent change cannot occur. And without change, nothing new can be created.

1. Think when you are not thinking. Try going for a walk, cooking, cleaning the house, doing yard work or asking yourself questions to stimulate curiosity and creativity.

Who ... is the actor or agent?

What ... is the action required?

When ... is the right time or timing?

Where ... is the location, scene or source?

Why ... is this needed?

How ... by what agency or method?

2. Listen to classical music. Recent studies reveal a molecular basis for the “Mozart effect,” but not for other music. Mozart can relieve stress, improve communication and increase efficiency. Creativity scores soar when listening to Mozart.

3. Read periodicals you would not typically read. If you’re interested in business, read a scientific magazine, or choose books outside your typical genre to generate diverse thinking—a critical competency in the creative process.

4. Attend a conference or a meeting outside your field. This helps connect to other “dots” in your life. Being away from your daily routine is a sure bet to stimulate ideas for creative solutions to your existing challenge.

5. Surround yourself with creative thinkers. Many organizations do not hire creative people, instead hiring for skill and their fit for the task. Chances are there are more “alike” people in your area than “different.” Look outside your area and normal routine to find some creative thinkers who are comfortable looking at things through a different lens, are not afraid to challenge assumptions, or who naturally love to explore newness in everything. Find people who love to doodle or draw, or who are exceptional storytellers.

6. Immerse yourself in a real problem. Ask questions and investigate possible outcomes. Try the state/restate technique. Individually or in a small team, write the current challenge in an open-ended question format. Then restate the question eight different ways. It’s been shown that 100 percent of participants experience a much greater clarity of the original “problem statement” than before. Once the problem is clear and concise, then dive into finding solutions—first looking at all ideas and then narrowing them down.

7. Keep an idea journal. An idea journal is accomplished when we take the time to commit our ideas to paper or an electronic note pad. Throughout the course of any given day, countless ideas come and go. Write or record them even though many may appear unrealistic at the time. Most of us simply discard our ideas as passing thoughts. The problem with this is that what we had previously believed to be unachievable can change drastically as our minds expand with each new success that comes our way.

8. Take a course to learn a new language or some other skill outside your area of expertise. This builds confidence and can provide an edge over others in the global multicultural working environment.

9. Be curious and experiment. In today’s no-nonsense business environment, those who stand out will rise to the top faster. Those who demonstrate curiosity, tenacity and willingness to experiment will become visible. Leaders value people who demonstrate a curiosity for the many facets of the business and a passion for its growth and success. This is the “intrapreneur” at work. The greater the degree of organizational support, the more design thinking flows and the more innovation is fostered in the organization.

10. Articulate your idea and seek feedback. Innovative ideas are those that solve an unmet need in the market. It is not about having a new idea, but about getting it out there. Testing an idea with your co-worker is one thing, but testing it with your customers or potential customers yields the best insights on the applicability, giving you more precise feedback about the need for your idea and its potential impact. For multiple ideas, vary your test network by approaching different people.

Seek feedback from collaborators and creative people as well.

11. Create a greenhouse for your ideas. The four primary negative forces designed to kill your ideas immediately are time, money, the people around you, and you yourself. 

For each, identify how to reduce the negative influence on the fresh ideas that desperately need “greenhousing,” that is, attention, protection, nurturing and growing. When dealing with ideas, greenhousing means keeping them safe, growing them naturally by being more curious, researching the elements and finding possibilities that will create an impact. Don’t force them to sprout too early. In other words, don’t tell others and don’t discard the ideas, but give them timely attention in the greenhouse until they have some viability.

Jatin DeSai, an international strategist and consultant, is the CEO and founder of The DeSai Group, in West Hartford, Conn.  

This article was originally published on 2011-12-05
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