Innovation: it’s a recipe, not a formula

“Breakthrough in the Shower” by Sean Stanwick

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Anyone who is waiting for a predictable process for breakthrough innovation (similar to TQM or BPR) may find the illustration above instructive.

Fresh insight depends on favorable ingredients and conditions – more like improvising with a recipe than a formula. By contrast, incremental improvements in the design of products and services suit predictable steps and outcomes.

What are some conditions that spawn eureka moments? What is the recipe?

There’s a lot we can learn about how innovation happens by paying attention to everyday situations. For example, my colleague Sean captured his recent insight in the shower by the illustration above; Tye Farrow reports he has new ideas while gardening; I rely on walking to work for fresh perspective.

What do these three activities – showering, gardening and walking – have in common?:

– SUSPENSION of MULTI-TASKING: they allow us to clear our heads

– PERMISSION to WANDER: escape from self-imposed pressure of conflicting priorities

– SPACE to WONDER: they give us the choice to think of nothing

We will be delving further into recipe/cooking/innovation/design similarities in future posts.

– Sharon VanderKaay

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  • About The Nature of Innovation

    We see our collaboration with clients and colleagues as providing a living lab for enriching the creative process. Farrow’s built work has been internationally recognized for leadership in human-centric design. This is where we come to discuss our ideas as they hatch and our experiences as they happen.
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