Definition of innovate: 1. to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. 2. to introduce something new.
Why innovate? Because innovative enterprises generally are more productive, responsive, profitable, and a lot more fun.
Yesterday I was in an email conversation with a group of friends, and the discussion turned to the future of Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook.
One of my friends said Cook is an operations guy, not an innovator: Cook can make a supply chain run smoothly, but he’ll never come up with a game-changing ideas like the iPod, iPhone, or iTunes.
It got me thinking about innovation, specifically: how do you get into an innovation mindset?
Strive For Chaos
Steven Johnson, in his 2010 book, “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation,” says: “An idea is a new network of neurons firing in sync with each other in your brain. It’s a new configuration that’s never formed before.”
Innovative ideas grow in environments that stimulate our minds. The best workspace for innovation would be a bit chaotic, like a crowded coffee shop filled with conversation, he says.
That’s cool, but we’re solopreneurs! We work alone!
Indeed, our routines, to-do lists, and scheduling apps are wonderful, but they’re the enemy of innovation. Our lives need to be jostled in a way that will awaken our brains and create an environment where innovation can happen. Here are a few ideas for creating a good kind of chaos, an environment where innovation can happen:
• Read books from genres you never read.
• Go to the library and lose yourself in the periodicals section, reading magazines and newspapers that you’ve never subscribed to.
• Roam the stacks at your library and look at books that rouse your curiosity.
• Get lost in Wikipedia by clicking on “Random article” link in the left-hand sidebar.
• Adopt the morning pages practice.
• Call or email friends and colleagues and ask, “What’s up? What are you working on?”
• Audit an online class through edX, which offers courses from schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Cal-Berkeley.
• If you live near a college or university, attend free lectures and presentations that are open to the public.
• Watch online TED talks.
• Hang out at a coffee shop.
• Meet people for lunch.
• Eat at a restaurant you’ve never eaten at before.
• Strike up conversations with strangers.
• Do your errands at a different day of the week or a different time of day.
• If you’re a walker or a runner, choose a new location.
• Spice up your exercise routine by adding something new, like boxing, kettlebells, or yin yoga.
• Sign up for a fun-sounding community education class — perhaps pottery, cooking, or bird-watching.
• Has it been years since you’ve touched your piano or picked up your violin? Sign up for a few lessons.
• Learn a new language.
• Go to a movie you’d never consider seeing.
• Check out TV shows you’ve never watched.