True creativity is a rare commodity in business.
Even the most open-minded among us rarely come up with genuinely new ideas.
In his book Creative Genius, Peter Fisk points to inventor, scientist, artist and astronomer Leonardo da Vinci as the epitome of the omnivorous innovator.
He generated new ideas, and he even anticipated scientific and technological discoveries that became practical only in the last century. The secret to da Vinci’s boundless creativity was his view of the world.
His relentless curiosity allowed him to see more, think on a grander scale and make original connections among disparate elements. He was brave, which allowed him to accept paradox, and to live with new and challenging concepts.
You can become more innovative by imitating da Vinci, Fisk writes. Methodically question and examine your world and how you perceive it.
Here’s one exercise that will help you think like da Vinci:
Pretend you can travel through time. Project yourself forward and look around. Picture how the world might change and what new opportunities that future world might hold.
Borrow the vision of renowned futurists like author H.G. Wells. Remember that innovation isn’t just new technology; it also includes changes in culture, lifestyle and ideation itself. Remain flexible in your thinking: Envisioning the future involves more than merely extrapolating from the present.
Time will not be the only change; space will shift as well, and in a more complex way than time. Markets will shift and interpenetrate. For example, companies like Virgin Galactic already are extending their sphere of innovation into outer space.
“One of the best ways to get new ideas is to look to other sectors, geographies and extreme users.” –Peter Fisk.
Ideas drive economies, says Fisk, and generating new perspectives is vital to economic success. Preparing for the future means emphasizing choices that breed new thinking. It requires embracing concepts that cross categories, such as protecting new ideas by training people in “neurosecurity” or supporting “biobanks” that store biological tissue instead of money.
While free-wheeling brainstorms are the start of innovation, at some point ideas must become practical. That’s why it’s important for innovation to be a team process, one that involves your customers and their needs.
As Fisk writes, “Launching an innovation solution, entering a new market or reaching out to new customers is in many ways the real starting point rather than the end of the innovation process.”