The key to successful innovation? 'The art of noticing'

Andrea Park - Print  | 

Not all game-changing new ideas stem from completely novel brainstorming sessions — many of the most impactful innovations have actually resulted from merely taking the time to notice and address something missing in a common, everyday experience.

In an excerpt of his recent book The Art of Noticing published in Newsweek, Rob Walker wrote, "Noticing things that everyone takes for granted — and that could be improved, amplified, repurposed or replaced — is often the first step toward innovation."

The key, he explained, is simply tuning out external distractions and paying attention to the "inspiration hiding in plain sight," not by imagining a totally new world, but by looking at the existing one in new ways. Here are three ways to do so:

1. Replace "is" with "could be": Look at existing products, services and processes from a new perspective, shifting focus from their current roles to other uses they could provide.

2. Change your route: Occasionally breaking habits to complete a task via less efficient methods can spark new questions and ideas for improving your usual processes.

3. Find something to complain about: "If nobody ever complained, nothing would ever improve," Mr. Walker wrote — as long as that negativity is used as a means, rather than an end.

More articles on innovation:
6 questions to determine whether a 'moonshot' innovation is doomed to fail
Cleveland Clinic chair Beth Mooney: 'You've got to lean into the digital world'
2 Cleveland Clinic spinouts join Global Center for Health Innovation

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