Innovation

43 Quotes about Innovation to Inspire Your Next Big Idea

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“Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship...the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” - Peter F. Drucker

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney

“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” - Albert Einstein

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” - Jonas Salk

“The purpose of Innovation Management is not to promote innovation, but to manage innovation as a process.” - Pearl Zhu

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” - Steve Jobs

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” - Jonathan Swift

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” - Albert von Szent-Gyorgy

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” - Nelson Mandela

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” - Henry David Thoreau

“It isn't all over; everything has not been invented; the human adventure is just beginning.” - Gene Roddenberry

“There’s a way to do it better — find it.” - Thomas Edison

“Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” - John Emmerling

“To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.” - Anatole France

“The best vision is insight.” - Malcolm Forbes

“Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” - Carl Jung

“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” - Eric Hoffer

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” - George Knelle

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford

“Do not get obsolete like an old technology, keep innovating yourself.” - Sukant Ratnakar

“Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity.” - Michael Porter

“This notion that it is up to each person to innovate in some way flies in the face of the industrial age, but you know what, the industrial age is over.” - Seth Godin

“Keep in mind that imagination is at the heart of all innovation. Crush or constrain it and the fun will vanish.” - Albert-László Barabási

“Creating a better future requires creativity in the present.” - Matthew Goldfinger

“Innovation is finding the door of opportunity and revealing its beauty.” - Debasish Mridha

“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” - Thomas Edison

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” - Walt Disney

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” - Goethe

“I will act as if what I do will make a difference.” - William James

“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” - Linus Pauling

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” - General George Patton

“Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” - William J. Cameron

“One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive one.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The enterprise that does not innovate ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present the decline will be fast.” - Peter Drucker

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” - Steve Jobs

"Where do you put the fear when you choose to innovate? The fear is there, but you have to find a place to put it." - Seth Godin

"...all technology starts as a spark in someone's brain." - Nathan Myhrvold, CEO, Intellectual Ventures

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Alan Kay

“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” - A. von Szent-Gyorgyi.

“Innovation comes from the producer – not from the customer.” - W. Edwards Deming

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” - Anthony Jay

 


Thought Experiment 6 - The Computer Simulation

The cyberpunk classic The Matrix  imagined a future where people live simulated lives projected by computers 

 
Elon Musk referenced the concept this past summer in an interview where he said we could be living in a computer simulation.


Absurd? Maybe... but it makes for an interesting "what if" thought experiment in shifting perception. You'll want to read the introduction 6 Thought Experiments to Inspire Innovation if you haven't already as it sets up this context of thought experiments as a tool for innovation.


Now, if you are intrigued by the concept, let's set up a framework to continue playing with the concept of the Computer Simulation Thought Experiment:


Can you imagine how things would be different if Musk is right and we are in a simulation? .... if you found you are living in a big video game and nothing you experience is real in the manner you thought it was?


How would the awareness of living in such a simulation affect your perspective on things you may have previously considered obstacles?


Now, to take things up a level, imagine that you discover you are actually the programmer of the reality game projecting your consciousness into the game to become the character you thought you were. As the programmer, you can leave the virtual reality and change the game in any way you like before reentering it.


Knowing this, how would you change it?


After doing so, how would things be different when you re-entered the identity of the game character you thought you were?

 

Let yourself slip into a daydream state (NOT while driving or operating heavy machinery!) and spend enough time with these questions for interesting new thoughts to emerge...

 

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Thoughts experiments like this one, The Model of Excellence, The Time Machine, or The Abstract Sculpture may not come easily at first. Most people aren't used to thinking in such out of the box ways. Then again, most people aren't experiencing the benefits of regularly generating  innovative ideas. So, if that's the case for you, maybe you can consider it like a first exercise session that wakes up a body that has been sedentary. With enough frequency and intensity, staying at it means you will make regular progress and, eventually, transformation.


In NLP , we call thought experiments like this "reframes" (link to NLP blog post). When you are in a rut, putting a different frame around the situation can bring the fresh perspectives, new soundtrack, and different feelings that facilitate the breakthroughs that take things to new levels.


Thought Experiment 4 - The Abstract Sculpture

"Eureka!" Archimedes

Thought experiments can trigger breakthrough ideas.

This post is part of a series of thought experiments for innovation in business. Previously, we dove deeper into the Model of Excellence and Time Machine methods.

If you haven't read the introduction 6 Thought Experiments to Inspire Innovation, you'll want to digest that first to set the stage.

Here, we consider a method of using the mind's abstract visual thinking abilities to stimulate innovation with The Abstract Sculpture thought experiment.

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“Abstraction forces you to reach the highest level of the basics.” – Alan Soffer

"I am searching for abstract ways of expressing reality, abstract forms that will enlighten my own mystery." – Eric Cantona

Before you start, set clear intent. A key to success with this (or any) thought experiment is creating the state of having achieved what you want in advance. What would you accomplish if anything was possible and you could not fail?

Seeing and hearing this achieved as if you are there, how do you feel different? How does this feeling move?

What is the difference between how you feel with the status quo and the feelings of this success through the right innovations actualized? Note this difference.

 Set aside some time when you can give this all your attention. Cut your smart phone off and let that act be an anchor for letting concerns slip away ... a good regular practice to have regardless.

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On to the Abstract Sculpture Thought Experiment.

Think of the times when you were in a relaxed, dreamlike state.

How were things different in those times? How did things look different?

How was your internal dialogue different?

What feelings did you notice that let you know you were relaxing and letting your imagination wander?

How was your breathing changed?

To go deeper, you can cycle through the senses like this a few times. What you saw, heard, felt ...

Now, if you could see your current level of achievement in that area of business as an abstract sculpture, what would it look like? What colors, forms, shadows and lighting would best evoke the feeling of it? Let enough time pass for this representation to fully form.

You can consciously sculpt it , just let shapes emerge, or both.

Look at it from different perspectives. Step back and see it from a distance. Imagine walking around it, looking at it from different angles. How would it look from above? Below? What details would you notice if you zoomed in close to it?

As this congeals in your mind's eye, imagine how the sculpture would look different if, instead, it represented the higher level of achievement, joy, focus, or whatever you would sense with the accomplishment you want. Again, keep it abstract so that it evokes the feeling without being a clear representation. Spend some time contemplating this changed art piece. Again, you can zoom in close, then zoom out to see it from a distance as well as see it from various angles.

Ideally spend at least 15 minutes contemplating the abstract sculpture in both original and evolved forms.

When you are ready, just come back and reorient yourself to your normal day-today concerns, maybe with a look at your calendar or planner.

“Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion and mystery, rather than obvious description.” – Robert Genn

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The thought experiment is like bait on a fishing line in murky, unfamiliar waters teeming with life. You can't see what's down there but you will discover it when you reel it in. As the chef of innovation, you don't know what dinner will be but it will be good.

How would things be different with enhanced mental agility from regular thought experiments?


Thought Experiment 2 - The Time Machine

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This is the second of the detailed thought experiments posts following the more general introduction 6 Thought Experiments to Inspire Innovation which is where you will want to start if you haven't read it yet.


Last time, we looked at the Model of Excellence method. Here, we are digging deeper into the Time Machine.


Have you seen the time travel comedy skit featuring identical twins?


What if time travel was a real thing in an alternate universe? After all, quantum mechanics says it is possible.

 
Here is a way to play with that concept to generate possibilities:


First, think of some ability or accomplishment you have now that 5 or 10 years ago, you wouldn't have even imagined.


In your imagination, travel back in time and share that information with the "past you". How does the "past you" react? Maybe deer-in-the-headlights? How would the reply sound as you shared this? How would he or she feel about learning of the future self's abilities or accomplishments?


Now, keeping this in mind, return fully to the present. Shake it off.


Imagine you are getting in your time machine again, but this time travelling to the future, looking back on your present self  - seeing and hearing your present self similarly to how you experienced your past self.


As your future self, imagine travelling back in time to the present (confusing, I know) telling your present (now, past) self about something you now do or have in this future time that your present self responds to in the same way.


What would that be?


6 Thought Experiments to Inspire Innovation

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. " Albert Einstein

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Young Einstein was riding his bicycle in Munich when he saw shafts of sunlight and wondered what it would be like to ride on a light beam. That thought experiment helped develop special relativity.


Thought experiments can be used for breakthrough innovation in many areas of life, including business. 


Do you sometimes feel like you are pushing against a wall and would rather find the door?


Would you like a fresh perspective on a business situation?


Could you be surprised at new solutions that seem to come from nowhere?


The right thought experiment is an exquisite tool for generating new possibilities. This post aims to set the stage for such a mental journey by sharing an overview of six suitable thoughts experiments.


The Stanford Encyclopedia says, " The primary philosophical challenge of thought experiments is simple: How can we learn about reality ... just by thinking?" These thought experiments are intended to expand one's reality by accessing hidden human reserves, untapped possibilities outside the boundaries of what we normally think we can do. Breaking the chains of  mental habits can unveil hidden resources and spur one to accomplish at higher levels.


"Change your thoughts and you change your world." Normal Vincent Peale


There is much outside of our perception. Peale's quote acknowledges that we don't respond to the world, but to our mental models of the world. If you ask 5 people who left a room together to describe their recollection, you'd get 5 different descriptions. Bees see ultraviolet shades invisible to humans to better find nectar. When my dog, Jefferson, sniffs a tree, I remember dogs have a sense of smell up to 100,000 times more sensitive than humans. People hear sound waves from 20 to 20,000 hertz yet dolphins and bats can hear up to 100,000 hertz. Instruments can measure frequencies yet further beyond our sensory perception. And that is far from all that is. 


Thought experiments are ladders over the mental walls of our thinking habits.  Once you have climbed up and are peeking over those walls, you may also hear the whispers of a new story. How would it make things different if you more regularly generated breakthrough ideas and inspiring new insights?


Two short tips before you start:


Sometimes a thought experiment can bring instant insight and other times there is an incubation period before an seemingly comes "out of the blue". Can you be surprised at what you are doing when an inspiring innovation comes to you? 


The right spirit to approach these with is taking a mental break from routine for an inner adventure in which you suspend your usual patterns of thinking and enter a trance-like, dreamy state. Enjoy taking the time out.


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Following are brief descriptions of 6 thought experiments. This may be enough to set you off on a fruitful mental journal and, if you need more, there will be subsequent posts that share more detailed step-by-step instructions.

 

 The Model of Excellence

Who represents excellence in handling issues like you are dealing with? Is it a famous author, consultant, or businessperson? Or is it a historical genius like Tesla or Einstein? What would be different if this person took your place in dealing with your business challenges? How might things turn out differently? More details on the Model of Excellence method here.


The Time Machine


How would it change your perspective if you could time travel years into the past and surprise the younger you with the knowledge of later accomplishments or skills that would have seemed unimaginable then? What extra resource might you give your younger self to achieve more in the coming years? What might you similarly learn from your future self if you traveled 10 or 20 years into the future to find out what you learned or accomplished later? More details on The Time Machine here.


The Olympic Athlete


How would things be different if you could borrow the focus, beliefs, and standards of an Olympic athlete in training and focus them on a goal you want to accomplish? Where do you notice the feelings that go with this drive and intensity?


The Abstract Art Form


If you could see your business achievements as an abstract art sculpture, what would it look like? How would it look different if it represented a higher level of achievement instead? Spend some time contemplating it in detail. What new perspective or inner dialogue emerge when you return to thinking about the issue? This can work with different sensory systems as well - try it with a piece of instrumental music or even a gourmet meal.


The Systems View


Systems thinking uses visual models to help us see how interrelationships and goal of a system drive performance in a way that transcends the individual parts. If you were to step out of your business challenge and see the dynamics of it instead as such a diagram, what would it look like? See it from a distance with detachment. What ideas emerge for optimizing the situation when you look at it this way?


The Computer Simulation


Elon Musk said in an interview that we could be living in a computer simulation . What if this was actually the case and we were living in a big video game so that nothing you experience is "real" in the sense you thought it was? What would you change if you were the programmer of this virtual reality that you previously mistook as real life?


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If your initial tries at these admittedly unusual ways of thinking don't immediately bear fruit, consider it like beginning a physical exercise program. The tentative first steps wake up a previously sedentary body to more activity and focusing on enough frequency and regular progress steps reap great benefits in the long run.


In NLP , we call thought experiments like this "reframes". When you feel you are in a mental rut, a reframe can brings fresh perspectives, a new, more invigorating soundtrack, or a pull into new directions previously unconsidered.  Enjoy the surprises.