Are Creative Discipline and Innovation Linked?

Hey team, let’s innovate!

Anyone with their ear to the ground, or anyone with ears for that matter, knows that Innovation is a popular buzzword. It gets sprinkled into any conversation about development and strategy. But few know what innovation really means for their organization. Even fewer know what the behavioral implications of being innovative really are.

“…By constantly thinking about it.”

This was Sir Issac Newton’s response when a woman asked him how he discovered his law of gravity. What does this tell us about Newton’s process of discovery?

Likewise, Otto Loewi tells of a lengthy process in the discovery of the inhibitory factor ‘vagusstoff’, which is known today as acetylcholine. Loewi is better known for the way in which he came upon the idea that won him the Nobel Prize than for the discovery itself. Loewi’s prize-winning experiment came to him in a dream.

According to Loewi, “The night before Easter Sunday of [1920] I awoke, turned on the light and jotted down a few notes on a tiny slip of thin paper. Then I fell asleep again. It occurred to me at 6.00 o’clock in the morning that during the night I had written down something important, but I was unable to decipher the scrawl. The next night, at 3.00 o’clock, the idea returned. It was the design of an experiment to determine whether or not the hypothesis of chemical transmission that I had uttered 17 years ago was correct. I got up immediately, went to the laboratory, and performed a simple experiment on a frog heart according to the nocturnal design.”

Innovation says, “Become Disciples of Tenacity”

These legends and many others like them have something very important in common. Discipline. Creative discipline is always a contributing factor of innovation. Essentially, “success is consistency over time.”

The reality is not so much that Otto Loewi was a genius, but that he had stuck with his theory and had been trying to prove the hypothesis for 17 years. This sticktoitivness is the common trait shared by all great innovators. You can learn more about the science of creative-innovative thinking.

At Yolk Ideas, we discuss this concept at length with our partners and clients. Many times, managers or team leaders believe that “variety is the spice of life” – so they keep changing the parameters of the process. Rotating people in and out of the creative meeting is not  the best way to become highly innovative. On the contrary, finding the right people for the project and identifying a static set of constraints and goals will guide the process. Apply these filters to all discussion and experiments  consistently until the goals are achieved. This is the best creative disciplines to reach new heights of innovation.

Innovation can’t be a focus for the purpose of profit. It can’t be a motivating factor for growth or raising your market profile. Innovation must always be in service of the needs of your customer. See, nobody cares how clever you are. As the old Teddyism goes, “no one will care what you know until they know that you care.” That colloquialism applies here. People won’t care how innovative you are until they know that your big new idea will benefit them because you care about them.

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