What inspires you to innovate ?

by Tom McCallum on June 14, 2010

Inspiration to foment innovation in your particular area of expertise can come from many sources, but a great starting point is to simply take time to follow other fields of interest to you, and the more passionate about them you are, the better.

To me one such field is Design.

Recently I had the opportunity to catch up again with Colin Burns, formerly a leading international design consultant with a major agency, and now a fellow “one man consultancy” now also focussed on a role as “innovation consultant”, among other things.

We had a wonderful brainstorming lunch in his gorgeous home base of Pitlochry, Scotland, and threw around numerous ideas on innovations. What fascinated me was that we seemed to think very much alike on innovation, but coming from very different angles.

I can’t say specifically what it is about Design that so often inspires me to think innovatively, but perhaps it is just a passion for the subject, it gets the synapses firing !

Another area I follow with passionate interest is Behavioural Economics, and yet another is the whole field of customer experience. Whilst the idea of “social media” is a new one, my interest and work in that field is therefore a natural extension of those last two fields of passionate interest.

So, if you are seeking inspiration to innovate, think about fields you can immerse yourself in that are not related to your business, but that you have a passionate interest in.

You can be as expert as you like in your field, but often the true value you can create comes from outside your comfort zone.

As my friend Dready put it in designing my new “cube grenade“, McCallum Solution is “the box… and everything outside it”, and it is the “outside” where the truly highest value is created.

Closing here by posting a talk from TED by David Kelley of Colin Burns’ old firm, IDEO, on “human-centered design”. To me this particular field is of particular interest, I love thinking about customers and the customer experience. This is eight years old, but still some excellent food for thought. By the way, if you ever have half an hour or more to seek inspiring ideas, watching TED talks on their site is a great option to choose !

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