Great innovations are not achieved by solitary work, created in a vacuum or emerge fully mature when first conceived. Innovations are not the product of a sudden brainstorm from a single individual—a light bulb moment, if you will. Those are sources of ideas.
And contrary to popular myth, great minds do not think alike; although great minds are open to exploring disparate ideas. In reality, innovation is a team sport where each member of a diverse group of people possesses a unique fragment of the puzzle the group is out to solve.
You reveal those fragments in two ways: by further developing and refining ideas already generated; and, by expanding upon the concepts, designs and sparks of others. One idea serves as a stepping stone for other ideas.
When someone else’s idea makes you think of something new, run with it—making sure that you modify and improve upon the original.
At the same time, other people can help develop your ideas. So share your ideas with others to see whether they can enhance them in different ways than you, or challenge you to expand upon your own ideas.
Innovation requires both divergent thinking and combinatory thinking. You tap into multiple reservoirs of knowledge and experiences to generate new, novel, and interesting ideas.
“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
And by stirring together ideas, thoughts and opinions, you spontaneously reveal undiscovered connections between ideas or objects. These elements might not have otherwise been joined, and, like a scrambled egg, will never again separate.
Look at your ideas and ask, could any be adapted, combined with or connected to another idea to spawn a new, more effective solution?
Co-mingling of myriad viewpoints, collaboration, beats consensus any day. It is what drives development and ignites innovation.
Innovations are not manufactured, they are like children. They need to be cared for, nurtured, encouraged and protected so they can grow. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to raise an innovation — because innovation has many parents. Ideas only become innovations through collaboration.
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