Let me make an educated guess: it’s most likely someone like Einstein or Edison. Shock of untidy air, absent-mindedness, and the ability to come up with strange, previously unheard-of thoughts.
Another possibility is a creative artist or storyteller who has the capacity to think outside of the box.
That description would make Jack Welch [famous General Electric CEO] shake his head.
He characterised innovation as follows: “Take an existing best practice and make it somewhat better than it was before.”
That’s all there is to it! He didn’t care where the ‘best practice’ came from as long as it was, in fact, a ‘best’ practice in his opinion.
As a result, throughout his time at GE, he was adamant about ensuring that the company got the greatest ideas in the business from all around the world and that, in the process of putting them into action at GE, they made modifications and innovated consistently throughout the process.
This was a really encouraging read for me.
As Steve Jobs famously said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Designer Jony Ive gave an explanation of what Jobs meant during the tribute for Jobs on the Apple campus, which was held immediately after his death. “We approach design with the goal of achieving the greatest amount of results with the least amount of resources. We are completely preoccupied by the task of developing a solution that is as basic as possible, since as physical beings, we recognise the value of clarity.”
Assuming I wanted to create a system for myself, all I had to do was search around for individuals who do things better than me and study their methods.
I could then take what I learned from them and adjust it to my own requirements. And there you have it! Innovation is on it’s way.
In my opinion, Jack Welch distilled the concept of “innovation.” And, more importantly, I discovered that after a lot of copying, you tend to actually learn what works for you and, over time, establish your own own style.
The goal is to simplify until you find your voice.