When I was a judge at the Thunderbird 2004 Innovation Challenge, Anil Rathi, who is the co-founder of the Innovation Challenge, sent me the book “What A Great Idea!” by Charles “Chic” Thompson.

Unlike all the other innovation books in my library (except Tom Peters’ “Circle Of Innovation” of course), “What A Great Idea!” looked like fun. And after a break from reading on innovation / creativity, I decided it would be a good place to restart.

Now, I have no idea who Mr. Chic Thompson is. I am however, very tempted to go online and do a Google. But I resist – for the greater good.

I open the cover of the book and a picture of an egg greets me – with this one line of text under it – “A goal of every living creature is to break out of the box.” And I think to myself, “Well yes! At least that’s what I’m trying to do these days!”

Then page (i) announces a New Creativity Workshop. The workshop is for an “interactive journey through the four steps of organizational innovation.” The steps of the workshop are then outlined below:

– break the “old rules of school”
– learn from failure
– dream with your eyes open

– be curious first … critical second
– ‘shake the tree’ for inspiration by adding stimuli
– smile and change your world in a heartbeat

– ask the right questions and see the uniqueness of your challenge
– look for second and third right answers
– expand your perspective with metaphorical thinking
– challenge your assumptions with paradoxical thinking
– learn a powerful brainstorming method called Idea Mapping

– make your vision visible
– create a results-driven action plan
– sell your ideas with passion
– keep your brain alive

The first step in the creativity workshop says, “break the ‘old rules of school'”. I wonder to myself, “What are the ‘new’ ideas in innovation these days?” and honestly, I cannot find any! There are more studies, more research, some successes at replicating the old innovation successes, but the impression I get is that there is nothing “new”. There are only “old rules of school”.

And maybe it is time to innovate “Innovation” itself. Maybe it is time to look at it from a perspective not explored yet – which is going to be a tough one!

The purpose of any research is to simplify a subject. All the “serious” research on innovation only confounds me further.

I agree that success – in itself – whether in implementing innovation, or otherwise, isn’t simple or easy. But why can’t the process to get there involve simpler guidelines?


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1 comment

  1. This was a terrific read, Naina.

    The real challenge for company leaders today, is to gain an entrepreneurial mindset in order to grow the business organically and creatively. They need to realize that the cost of not innovating can be so terribly high that it can cost them their image in the world market. They would merely have to follow in the footsteps of the competitor who did innovate. And cover their lack of knowhow by just aping their rival’s!

    Mature corporations should focus on defensive strategies to hold on to their share of a waning market. Innovating is a logical solution to shrinking profit margins. Let us not nurture false hopes of some miraculous transformation if we don’t move with the times.

    Edward de bono has surely inspired millions with his radical approach and i am no exception. Even as i read these rules, they sound as if they are just what i want to do. These things are simple, Naina. You just got to try them out to really know how simple they are!

    Armand Rousso

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