Monday, December 31, 2012

Innovation Through Combining Conceptual Elements

Innovation most often, it seems, comes in the form of combining existing elements.  How things are combined, the “form and fit” of the blending (combining) has a large impact on the outcome, but conceptually all the items being combined already exist. 
Combinations can be between items within the same “conceptual category” such as iPhone and Laptop combined to iPad .  Combinations can be between two disparate conceptual-categories such as Pet and Rock, or Shower and Radio.  The scope and boundaries of any “conceptual category” certainly makes for lively discussion, perhaps best with a latte and a cigar.  I believe the argument could be made that the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci could be distilled to combinations of existing elements.  The Archimedes screw was already in existence to pump water from the Nile river.  The da Vinci helicopter, whether a device that descends slowly through the atmosphere (ie: the water turning the screw) or a device which ascends in the atmosphere (the screw moving through the water) 
Certainly I mean no disrespect to one of the greatest inventors of his time.  The point is not personal; it is that innovation comes most often from combining existing elements from similar or disparate conceptual categories.

An Invitation

Innovation: To begin or introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time, to renew, make new.

People are creative, problem solvers, creatures of innovation.  The act of innovation sparks joy in our beings.  Innovation changes the course of humanity.

A person can learn the craft of being an engineer, cook, musician, speaker, etc. However, it is rare to find teaching on how to help people become more creative, innovative in their craft.  Regardless of the specific craft or endeavor, there are innovative qualities within the human spirit that can be strengthened, nurtured, expanded, fostered, and magnified.

To those out there whose passion it is to innovate, what practical and pragmatic ways have you found to increase your ability to innovate well, and to teach others?

Thanks, Cliff