Innovation relies on inspiration. Keeping yourself motivated to find new sources of inspiration and creativity management is integral in your formula to success. Enjoy these tips to finding new inspiration.
1. Expand your Knowledge Base
The root of innovation is understanding the products and the market demands that currently exist. Open source education sites such as MIT OpenCourseWare and Harvard Open Courses allow you to expand your knowledge of current trends and remind yourself of tried and true research and development methods. Consider a course adjacent to your interests. For example, innovation is exploding in the biosciences, driven by people with an understanding of genetics and computer science. Software is growing hardware, including jet fuel. Online courses offer you knowledge, and equally as important for innovators, the opportunity to collaborate with other creative thinkers.
2. Use Those Nerves to Your Advantage
Jab Abumrad of NPR’s Radiolab fame, shared:
You should be panicking a certain amount of the time. Because then you’re right at the edge of what you can do. You need a little bit of uh-oh in your creative life, just enough. Think about right before a liquid turns to a gas. The molecules begin to vibrate and bump into each other and get agitated—things are never happy or comfortable at that moment of change, but sometimes that unhappiness just means you’re doing something worth doing.
Performers call it pre-show jitters, athletes get pre-game anxiety and innovators sometimes call it ulcers, but that distinct sense of panic that surrounds what feels like a tremendous, new idea could be that same rush you get just before tipping over the apex of a roller coaster. In your mind you know you are harnessed safely, the coaster serviced properly and the car is in good maintenance but your stomach still knots up and your muscles tense. In your project the research is solid, the presentation prepared and the idea ground-breaking but your mind tries to fall back into the existing ideas because you’ve already been there and know the measure of success.
Being an innovator means being on the edge, and the edge is uncomfortable. Just remember…
The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. – Hunter S. Thompson
3. Just Breathe
When Fast Company profiled Shell’s Mandar Apte they spoke at length about one of the most innovative and undeniably successful programs he instituted called Empower. Among the various tenets of the program, breathing techniques were introduced into the work place designed to foster creativity and innovation.
A breathing technique, known in the yoga community as Ujjayi, emphasizes the pause between breathing in and out. This comes with the idea that each pause between breaths creates a brief pause in thought. Those pauses allow your mind to create separation between each thought. Those separations help keep your mind clearer and foster creativity.
The Innovation Lesson
Some product managers are not innovators – they seldom leave their office, avoid networking meetups, eat lunch by themselves, and don’t talk with customers. For them, they have no fear of the edge because they never go near it. Readers of this blog are not like that. Instead, you look at how to create more value for customers through innovation, engage in networking opportunities to gain new perspectives, and expand their knowledge regularly. If you are working on the edge, continue these practices… and just breathe.