Look for the Solution inside the Problem

Two prisoners dug a tunnel from their cell 80 feet to escape from prison. Where did they hide the dirt? I heard this story from Roni Horowitz of the consultancy group SIT who uses it to show the advantages of a method called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). The answer is that they hid the dirt in the tunnel. The prisoners stole nylon sacks from the prison bakery and each day they dug the tunnel... Read More--


Innovation can Destroy as well as Create

Socrates Apparently Socrates in ancient Greece was strongly opposed to the new practice of writing. He thought that it would kill the long-established skill of memorizing and reciting epic stories. Furthermore he thought that writing would replace or discourage conversation. It seems ludicrous that any intellectual could oppose writing. However, every innovation involves an element of destruction.... Read More--


When Innovation threatens your business you must adapt or die.

What do you do when an innovation threatens to put you out of business?  Adapt or die.  Daniel Peter, who was born in 1836, was a Swiss candle-stick maker whose business started to suffer because of the new invention of oil lamps.  He had a factory that could pour liquid candle wax into molds.  How could he adapt these skills?  He decided to make chocolate bars but he wanted to do something to... Read More--


Has the Innovation Engine run out of Steam?

The Economist recently ran a feature entitled, ‘Has the Ideas Machine broken down?’   The front cover showed a Rodinesque figure sitting on a toilet and pondering the question, ‘Will we ever invent anything as useful again?’ There are many pundits who think that the innovation engine which has powered the growth of the world economy is running out of steam.  Peter Thiel, one of the founders... Read More--


Break the Rules and Move Fast – lessons from the Great Innovator Don Estridge

Don Estridge Don Estridge, ‘the father of the IBM PC’, was the man who tore up the IBM rule book in order to ship a revolutionary product, the IBM Personal Computer, which spawned a whole industry and ushered in a new era in the history of computing.  He was born in 1937 in Jacksonville, Florida. He gained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Florida.  He worked... Read More--


How Startrek inspired an Innovation – your Cell Phone

Captain Kirk Martin Cooper led the team at Motorola that developed the world’s first handheld mobile phone.  He was born in 1928.  He served in the US Navy before taking a degree in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).  In 1954 he joined Motorola and worked on pagers and then car phones using cellular technology.  At that stage the car phones were mobile only in... Read More--


Adopt an Idea from Elsewhere and Adapt it for your Business

Clarence Birdseye Adapting ideas that work in one environment and using them in another is one of the most successful of innovation techniques. In 1916 a young American scientist and inventor called Clarence Birdseye went to Canada as a fur trader. He noticed that people in Labrador kept their food frozen in the snow for extended periods in the winter. When he returned to the USA he developed this... Read More--


A hostile reaction to genius is not unusual – it is the norm.

Tchaikovsky The Russian composer Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) dedicated his brilliant first piano concerto to the eminent pianist Nikolai Rubinstein. When it was completed in February, 1875, he played the piece for Rubinstein. ‘Not one word was said – absolute silence… I got up from the piano. ‘Well?’ I said. Then a torrent burst from Rubinstein, my concerto... Read More--


Innovations come at the Intersection of Sciences – How a Botanist shaped your Computer.

  Friedrich Reinitzer Liquid crystals   represent a state of matter which exists between solid and liquid states. They were first discovered in 1888 by Austrian botanist Friedrich Reinitzer who was studying cholesterol at the Charles University in Prague. Reinitzer described three important features of cholesteric liquid crystals; the existence of two melting points, the reflection of polarized... Read More--


What is the Difference between Creativity and Innovation?

Discussions about innovation are often made difficult because people are unclear about the exact meanings of some key terms. In particular there is confusion about the difference between creativity, innovation and invention. Let us start with some definitions: Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual Innovation is the implementation of something new. Invention... Read More--