How to Innovate

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Businesses are always looking for new ideas. Creativity and innovation are at a premium. And there is no lack of information out there on how to improve creativity or how to be more innovative. Much scientific research has been devoted to the problem as well.

And this research has found that creativity and innovation is all about making connections – new ideas come from the combination of ideas, thoughts and knowledge that already exist. The key is in the way these ideas, thoughts and knowledge are combined. The more unusual and complex the connections, the greater likelihood of something truly innovative. Here are some tips on making these kinds of connections.

1. Locating the problem
Coming up with something novel often starts with examining the problems, issues or challenges that you are currently dealing with. You first need to examine these things in more detail to gain a thorough understanding of them, which in turn will help you to generate connections and ideas.

2. Laying the groundwork
This is part of examining the problem. You need to absorb as much knowledge as you can about the problem or issue – and things related to it – through a wide range of reading and talking to people. You need to immerse yourself in the situation. You need to become cognizant of all aspects of a problem, not just the technical details, which will in turn help you to form the complex connections you need to make to be innovative.

3. Gestation
Creativity and innovation take time. After you have absorbed all of the information, learned as much as you can, your mind needs time to work through all that you have taken in. You need to give yourself time to let this percolation occur.

4. Volume, volume, volume
The more ideas you have, the greater the probability of creating new ideas. To have novel ideas, you need to have a lot of ideas. This in some ways is akin to brainstorming. Do not hold back when generating ideas. Do not let prejudice or conventional thinking stand in the way. Engage diverse thinkers in the process.

5. Assess
In coming up with ideas, you want to suspend critique and judgment and doubt. But after you have generated ideas, you need to apply your analysis and critical thinking to them to see if they will stand up against attack.

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