Innovation is often seen as this mysterious power that only few possess. This is a myth. In this video, I debunk three of the biggest myths about innovation!
If you're a video person, I lay it all out in the video below. If reading is more your thing, skip the video and hop straight to the transcript below!
Myth number one: only the gifted few can be innovators.
Only the gifted few, the lone genius, the Steve Jobs, the Elon Musk—only the gifted few can be innovators.
That's a myth. The truth is that we are all naturally innovative. Because innovation is all about finding better ways to do things. That's all it is really, at its core. So anytime you come across a situation that bugs you, a situation that you think, "Ah, that's that's not the way it should be—whether it's global injustice or, you know, our Monday morning meetings are running a little bit too long." And you come up with a with a way to fix that, like, "How can this be better?" That's, that's the mind of an innovator.
It's not the lone genius, it's not the gifted few—we all have the ability to be innovative. We just kind of forget that. And because—see here's the problem.
When you think it's, it's the the domain of just the gifted few, then then you give up. You think, "Well, that's, that's that's not my department. You know, innovation is not my department." Innovation is everybody's department, because innovation is looking at a situation and saying, "Oh, how can this be better?" We can all do that. You can do that, right?
Second myth is that innovation is the lightning bolt, it's it's it's the magic lightning bolt that comes down and just, and then strikes somebody, and we don't know where it comes from, right?
Innovation is not a lightning bolt. Innovation is all about connecting dots. Seeing two or more things and connecting them in a way that nobody else ever has before. Like when Gutenberg connected the wine processor with movable type and created the printing press, you know. And these dots can be anything: ideas, experiences, people. Every conversation you have, every podcast you listen to, every article you read, everything that comes into your, into your being, that comes into your sensibility is a dot.
And here's the thing—you never know which dot is going to be the million dollar idea.
You never know which dot is going to be that connection, that missing link, that missing piece of the puzzle that's going to create the picture, that's going to create the innovation, that's going to move the needle and make the difference.
So that's what innovation is. It's not just waiting for the lightning bolt. It's, it's collecting lots of dots, lots of different experiences, lots of different, uh, inputs: conversations, radio shows, magazines, anything. And then all of a sudden thinking, "Oh, you know what? Ooh, this reminds me of this," and, bam, all of a sudden you got that spark of genius. That's the innovative idea. It's not the lightning bolt. It's connecting dots.
And the third myth is that only the big innovations count, right?
If you didn't come up with Amazon.com, if you didn't invent the iPhone, or the Tesla, or the internet, or the Mars rover, then, then you're not an innovator.
Well this is blatantly untrue. Because as we've already talked about, innovation at its core is just about seeing a problem, a challenge, and think, and thinking, "How can this be better?" And problems, challenges, come in all different sizes and shapes, right? So, it doesn't have to be a big innovation to count.
You wanna know what's been one of the most game changing innovations in my world—
because I'm a speaker, I travel for a living, I spent a lot of time in hotels—is the curved shower rod on the bathtub. You know, for years and years and years, the shower rod was always was always straight. And you know this, right? And so you have these plastic shower curtains, they'd cling up against you, and it would feel really kind of weird and icky, unless you like that kind of thing. But then somebody said, "What if we just curve the shower rod outwards?" Problem solved!
Was that the Tesla? Was that the iPhone? Was that the internet? Was that the Mars rover? No, it was curving a piece of metal. But it solved a problem.
So, big innovations, little innovations they all count.
So again—number one, myth number one: only the, only the gifted few can be innovators. No. We're all the gifted few. We're all innovators, because innovation is all about seeing a challenge and thinking, "How can this be better?"
Myth number two: innovation is the lightning bolt that comes down mysteriously from the sky. No. Innovation is all about connecting dots. So what do you do? You collect dots. you go out and you read different things, you listen to different things, because you never know which dot is going to be that one connection, that one missing piece of the puzzle, that's going to move the needle and create the innovative idea.
And the third myth is that only big innovations count. No. Innovations are about solving problems. And just like there are big problems and little, little problems, there are big innovations and little innovations. They all count, and you've got access to all of them.
You are an innovator. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
I'm Bill Stainton. I'll be back next time to help you Turn Your Creativity into Money™.