33 Innovation Quotes to Inspire Your Next Idea

Businessman with illuminated light bulb concept for idea, innovation and inspiration

The Power of Innovation

There’s no telling where your next idea will come from. One of the many reasons I love to share quotes is that they often inspire us or cause us to think differently. Here are some quotes about innovation for the next time you need a spark.

 

“Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way.” –Tom Freston

 

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.” – Simon Sinek

 

“Innovation is created as a result of constructive conflict.” -Jeff DeGraff

 

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” –Steve Jobs

 

“Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.” –Barbara Corcoran

 

“There’s a way to do it better—find it.” –Thomas Edison

 

“Innovation comes from saying NO to 1,000 things.” –Steve Jobs

 

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” –Jonathan Swift

 

“Innovation only survives when people believe in their own ideas.” –Levo League

 

“Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity.” –Michael Porter

 

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” –Nelson Mandela

 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” –Maya Angelou

 

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” –Henry David Thoreau

 

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

 

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” –Albert Einstein

 

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates

 

“Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let’s all go exploring.” –Edith Widder

 

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” –Chinese Proverb

 

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all what the world needs most are dreamers that do.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach

Put the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work for You

Disrupt Yourself

Disrupt Yourself

Companies think about it all the time. Innovation. A new idea, one that will catapult the organization to the top.

Individuals don’t always think about the power of disruption and innovation to reinvent themselves in the same way.

 

“Disrupting yourself is critical to avoiding stagnation.” -Whitney Johnson

 

Whitney Johnson is one of the world’s leading management thinkers and is a former an award-winning Wall Street equity analyst. Whitney’s latest book, Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disrupt Innovation to Work, is all about putting the power of disruptive innovation to work on you.

If you want to be mediocre, this is not the book for you. But, if you’re daring, put the power of disruptive innovation to work on your own career.

Whitney recently shared with me some of the highlights from her book and research:

 

7 Variables to Mastery

 

7 Variables to Mastery

1: Take the right risks

2: Play to your distinctive strengths

3: Embrace constraints

4: Battle entitlement

5: Step back to grow

6: Give failure its due

7: Be discovery driven

 

 

You’ve identified 7 variables to move from gaining competence, confidence, and finally, mastery.  Is there one that most people struggle with?

One of the hardest is entitlement, the belief that ‘I exist therefore I am entitled’.  Sadly, I see it in myself all the time.  It comes in many guises, like cultural entitlement.  We all need to feel that we belong.  A sense of belonging gives us the confidence we need to try something new.  But as we begin to see the fruits of taking the right kinds of risks and playing to our strengths, it’s easy to start believing ‘this is the way things should and will always be’.  The nanosecond we start believing this, we stop learning.  So that right when you are feeling the most competent, and have the confidence to try something new, you begin to stagnate, potentially even backsliding.  If you want to enjoy the hypergrowth of disruption, of moving forward not back, battle entitlement.

Copyright Whitney Johnson. Used by permission. Copyright Whitney Johnson. Used by permission.


Identify Your Distinctive Strengths

I have always been a fan of working on strengths. How do you identify your distinctive strengths?

It’s easy to identify your distinctive strengths, after the fact, because they are what make you a fish out of water.  It’s figuring out your strengths in the first place.  So here’s a clue:  What compliment do you habitually dismiss?  You’ve heard it so many times that you are bored.  Or you wonder why they are complimenting you because it is as natural as breathing. Malcolm Forbes said, “People tend to undervalue what they are, and overvalue what they aren’t.” Take note of that compliment.  It’s likely a strength.  Then find ways to apply or use that strength where others are not.

 

“A distinctive strength is something that you do well that others within your sphere don’t.” -Whitney Johnson

 

Like Jayne Juvan, a partner at a law firm in Cleveland.  As a third year associate, she started blogging. There was some political flak.  Law firms tend to be conservative.  The partners didn’t see the opportunity.  But she didn’t back off.  Good thing. When the economy came crashing down in 2007, she sidestepped layoffs because she’d landed clients on social media.  She also had a compelling case to make when she was up for partner.  Learning the law was her pay-to-play skill, social media her distinctive strength.

 

“Beware the undertow of the status quo.” -Whitney Johnson

 

When to Make Your Move

63 Innovation Nuggets (for aspiring innovators)

Gold nuggets isolated on white background. Gold currency.

Innovation Nuggets

I’m always studying the world’s greatest innovators. From Apple’s Steve Jobs to Tesla’s Elon Musk, we can admire and emulate some of the practices that inspire creativity. Whether you are looking to boost your own innovative spirit, create an innovative team, or power your creative genius, you may find that regularly reading and studying others sparks new ideas.

 

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” –Steve Jobs

 

One spark may be a new book by George Barbee.

63 Innovation Nuggets (for aspiring innovators) is a practical guide to boosting your innovation. George Barbee developed these nuggets during the span of his 45 year career as an entrepreneur and corporate leader. For the last 15 years, George has taught at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

I recently spoke with George about his many decades of teaching and living the subject of innovation.

 

“An innovative network can change the culture of an organization.” -George Barbee

 

Don’t Underestimate Your Ability to Innovate

George, I have heard you say, “Yes, Steve Jobs is a genius, but what about innovating for the rest of us?” What exactly do you mean by that?

Steve was in fact a true genius of “Invention.” He could imagine what people needed and wanted even before they realized it or could verbalize it themselves. He could see around corners into the future.

unnamedBut I believe most of the rest of us way underestimate our ability to “innovate”—especially with focus on techniques and methods within our control to improve this skill. And yes, it is a skill and an art, not an innate ability or something we are necessarily born with. I’ve witnessed this in my business career and the last 15 years teaching at University of Virginia, and interestingly across 40 countries. It’s a major theme underlying the book.

“Invention” is part of the broader scope of “innovation.” In fact, only a slice.

For example, the rest of us can be gifted and train ourselves to “innovate” in new and different ways. Key to the word “innovation” is doing something in a “meaningfully new and different way.” This takes us well beyond just product invention, but “innovation” now incorporates anything that is new and meaningfully different.

In the book we talk about dozens of “nuggets” or little gems that provide insights as to how to innovate. It is, in fact, remarkably easy to develop these skills. Like exercising a good muscle, the more you use it and focus on it, the better it gets. It’s a form of building innovative confidence through practice.

It’s learnable. It’s teachable.

 

“Innovation is best led by vision.” -George Barbee

 

Make Observation and Art

Of the 63 nuggets in 63 Innovation Nuggets, do you have one that is a favorite?

That’s a tough question. I started with over 140 nuggets and in an effort to winnow it down to 52 (one per week) I couldn’t bring myself to cut any more, so I went with 63. Not necessarily brilliant, but sincere.

So, a favorite? Well, not necessarily only one favorite but it’s a good place to start: Nugget #19: Observing as an Art. The power and concentration it takes to observe what is around us is quite challenging. As we say, put yourself in “receive mode.” Just take things in around you. Listen. Look. Smell. Maybe even feel and taste. We observe with all our senses. This is time out to THINK. The key is sensing. Thinking.

 

“Successful innovators have a keen sense of observation.” -George Barbee

 

We go on to encourage note taking. Practice alone or with a like-minded friend and confidant. Have some fun with the process.

We then go on to tell some stories about observing. Practical situations where innovation around us is often under our noses, but we haven’t taken the time out to appreciate it or document it. One example is ATM or teller lines at banks. It used to be that we would go up to one of three tellers or machines and pick one and hope for the best. Woe to the person picking the wrong line! The tendency was then to hop over to the faster moving line. Then came the great innovation in line management—the “I” formation, or lining up in a single line, with the front person going to the next available opening. Brilliant. It takes the early guesswork out of picking the right single line. Happier customers. True Innovation.

 

Innovation Tip: Start conversations with “imagine if…”

 

Think ACROSS to Progress in Your Career

5 C’s to Help You Plan for Your Next “Big thing.”

What Catalog Cards Communicate

The end of an era

Earlier today, OCLC said “goodbye” to a service that it had been performing since the early 1970’s: the printing of library catalog cards. Most of you are familiar, I’m sure, with those 3×5 cards and the drawers that housed them. There is a lot of nostalgia for those drawers among librarians—they’re beautiful pieces of furniture that can be put to many uses: as wine racks, jewelry and collectible cases, storage for tools, crafts and sewing supplies, etc.

 

Fact: At peak, @OCLC shipped 8 tons of cards weekly.

 

However, there is not as much nostalgia for the cards themselves.

You have to remember that, before the Internet, a catalog card was the closest thing to a hyperlink that most of us ever experienced. Like hyperlinks, catalog cards took us from a quick description of information to the full resource. They were, for more than a hundred years, the absolute height of information seeking technology. Those cards may seem quaint now. But the ability for patrons, on their own, to quickly identify and find one book in a building containing tens or hundreds of thousands is a remarkable testament to the genius and hard work of librarians.

But that work was tedious. Each book required, in many cases, multiple cards: one for subject, one for author, one for title. They had to be hand typed. Any small error required a complete redo.

OCLC's first catalog card; Used by Permission OCLC’s first catalog card; Used by Permission

“Your focus should be on the future not the features.”

 

An early example of crowdsourcing

Computerization helped, of course. That was OCLC’s original business: a centralized collection of records from which cards could be reproduced more efficiently. Rather than create the same card over-and-over at each library, members of the cooperative contributed to the shared database, which was then used to print cards for everyone. By some estimates, this process saved librarians about 90% of the time required to manually create new cards, a task that I’ve heard took around an hour.  OCLC has printed around 1.9 billion cards during the past 45 years, meaning cooperative cataloging has saved our industry about 195,000 years of administrative effort. Which is great! That’s time librarians were able to spend helping people reach their learning goals and get the information they need…

Instead of typing up billions of little cards by hand.

Which is why those cards hold so little nostalgia for many librarians. They were a necessary technology at the time. And a profoundly useful one. But the tool itself was never the point. In retrospect, that’s so much easier to see than when we’re looking at today’s newest technology.

Don’t get me wrong! I love the new stuff! It’s fun and it’s fast and it’s cool. And it’s important. But nowhere near as important as understanding the needs of the people our technology serves.

Skip Prichard with the last OCLC printed catalog card Skip Prichard with the last OCLC printed catalog card

What are your “5 C’s”?

37 Quotes on the Creative Force Within

Man praying, meditating in harmony and peace at sunset. Religion, spirituality, prayer, peace.

 

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” –Albert Einstein

 

“Creativity doesn’t just love constraints; it thrives under them.” -David Burkus

 

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” –Joseph C. Pearce

 

“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” –Henri Matisse

 

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” –Stephen Hawking

 

“Creating open teamwork is the best way to encourage innovation.” -Kay Koplovitz

 

“You can’t harvest big ideas unless you sow the right seeds.” -Rowan Gibson

 

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” –Dr. Seuss

 

“A thousand dreams within me softly burn.” –Arthur Rimbaud

 

“The earth has music for those who listen.” –Shakespeare

 

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” –Robin Williams

 

“Creativity takes courage.” –Henri Matisse

 

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” -Albert Einstein

 

“Innovation is the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” -Peter Drucker

 

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” –Henry David Thoreau

 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” –Alan Kay

 

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” –Vincent Van Gogh

 

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” -Thomas Edison

 

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” –Carl Sandburg

 

“Every artist was first an amateur.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson