How to innovate.
Mingle The Internet. The airplane. Sliced bread. How on earth did they do it? Truth is, mythical “Eureka!” moments have very little to do with great breakthroughs in innovation. In fact, creating something new and exciting has less to do with supernatural ability than following a few golden rules. As the old adage goes: genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. Fail Thomas Edison is best known as the creator of the light bulb. But it took him thousands – yes, thousands – of attempts before he perfected it. The Wright brothers researched the failure of previous attempts at flight before they achieved liftoff, and they had a few duds of their own (they even proclaimed, at one point, that human flight would not be achieved in their lifetime). If you want to succeed, you’re going to have to fail. When you do, analyze what happened and how you can improve. Play All work and no play made Jack a dull boy. Take a cue from Vancouver’s up-and-coming tech darling, Hothead Games, which was named at the 2007 Canadian New Media Awards as the Most Promising New Company of the Year. The creators of the Penny Arcade Adventures computer games state it loud and clear on their website: “You can’t make fun unless you’re having fun.” Whether it’s extreme mountain biking or going to the theatre, pursue new experiences to recharge your mind and gain new perspectives on your world and your work. n Explore To paraphrase John Lennon, ideas happen when you’re making other plans. Many highly successful, innovative companies have exploration time built into their workflow. Google, for example, famously requires its engineers to spend 20 per cent of their time working on personal projects unrelated to their main job. The result? Such service breakthroughs as AdSense, Gmail and Google News. Make sure you build time into your schedule to brainstorm, research and exchange ideas with colleagues. Share It’s a rule of nature: nothing grows in a vacuum. According to Andrew Csinger, entrepreneur-in-residence at UBC, the biggest gaffe he sees would-be innovators make over and over again is choking their idea by not sharing it. “Worry less about the protection of the thing rather than the life of the thing,” he advises.