Creating Breakthrough #Innovation In Seven Simple Steps

There is much to be said for simplicity in the pursuit of innovation. In the case for small businesses with limited budgets who hesitate to innovate due to R&D, leaders are often faced with three critical decisions: what to follow versus what to ignore, what to leave in versus what to leave out, and what to do versus what not to do.

Seven rules help guide that discipline.

1. What isn’t there can often trump what is. As Jim Collins wrote in a 2003 USA Today article, “A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important, what is not.”

2. The simplest rules create the most effective experience. Order and engagement might best be achieved not through rigid hierarchy and central controls, but through one or two vital agreements, often implicit, that everyone understands and is accountable for, yet that are left open to individual interpretation and variation.

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3. Limiting information engages the imagination. Conventional wisdom says that to be successful, an idea must be concrete, complete, and certain. But the most engaging ideas are often none of those things. Specifics draw people in, but give too many and they turn their attention elsewhere.

4. Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints. As writer, art critic, and essayist G.K. Chesterton once claimed, “Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”

5. Break is the important part of breakthrough. Innovation often demands a break with convention.

6. Doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing. Innovation often demands taking a break from the rigors of work. Neuroscience now confirms that the ability to engineer creative breakthroughs indeed hinges on the capacity to synthesize and make connections between seemingly disparate things. A key ingredient is a quiet mind, severed for a time from the problem at hand.

7. Meditation—a practice that eliminates distraction and clears the mind—is an effective way to enhance self-awareness, focus, and attention, and to prime your brain for achieving creative insights.

Business leaders today face endless choice and feature overkill. They need to cut through the noise, using the art of subtraction to reveal the quiet truth. These six rules point to a single, powerful idea for achieving simplicity in any innovative effort: When you remove just the right things in just the right way, good things happen.

Adapted from via Six Secrets to Doing Less.

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Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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Posted in Innovation, Leadership

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