Take A Fresh Look

22 May 2008 at 3:06 pm 1 comment

I wrote in a previous post about several articles in the recent innovation-themed New Yorker issue that I found particularly interesting. The first, which dealt with the Japanese principle of kaizen, can be read here, but now let’s turn to the second article, which is based on the theory that big ideas aren’t as rare as most of us think they are. Titled “In the Air” and written by Malcolm Gladwell, it examines the process of idea generation, the process of multiple discoveries and our romantic notions of “genius.”

As many might already know, there is fairly well documented history of simultaneous discoveries. Marconi & Tesla with electricity; Newton & Leibniz with calculus, there seems to have been at least six different inventors of the thermometer and nine claimants to the invention of the telescope. And this list is just a fraction of the number of significant discoveries all made “multiply” over the centuries.

But what really grabbed my attention was the story of Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft engineer who wanted to create ideas. His thought was that by bringing together clever people from different backgrounds and with different interests, he would assist in the creation of innovation and insight. His goal is ultimately to have develop an idea far enough to patent and then sell the rights to other companies for development. But what struck me was how applicable this approach is for small, independent businesses.

We all struggle with the issue of having to be the sales manager, marketing director, customer service dept., plus dealing with our “real” business–being creative! So how about letting a few outsiders in to take a look at your business; and offering to do the same for them? Go to your favorite locally owned businesses: a restaurant, a clothing boutique, a plumber, etc.–all of whom you admire for some aspect of their business. Explain that you want to start a brain trust–local companies working together to the benefit of all, and see what types of innovations and insights you can generate for each other. Be willing let others into your process and your decision-making, be interested in what they have to say and offer, and able to to offer constructive insights of your own on their issues and concerns. 

Because while there are very few true geniuses in the world, there are great many very clever people. And the history of scientific insight shows that a genius is not a person who does what no one else can; he or she is a person who does what it takes many others to do. “The genius is not a unique source of insight,” writes Gladwell, “he is just an efficient source of insight.” So start your own genius sounding board today!

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Entry filed under: Experience Enhancement, Innovation, Marketing. Tags: , , .

Separating Facts From the Fear Design & Our Marketing Assumptions

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Linda H. Bassert  |  2 June 2008 at 8:25 pm

    What an improvement on the idea behind many networking organizations! The cross pollination, so to speak, from different disciplines, is bound to offer a wealth of new ideas and strategies. Time for me to start looking around with new eyes to see what has probably been around me all along!

    Reply

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