Tag: Innovation

Reprint: The Wheel of Innovation


 Reprinted Article from November of 2009

206308main image 976 946 710 Reprint: The Wheel of Innovation

Innovation in tight times is always hard. It can be especially difficult in the tough economic times we face now. To be the innovative person/business now is like being Noah facing the task of building an ark in the middle of a desert. You can compare it to the Wright brothers taking their first flight, and the preparations they took in the 1800’s to their inaugural flight of 1903. You could even make the argument that even the person who invented the idea of the ‘pet rock’ was innovative, while a huge stretch. What are you mad!Innovation not only takes time and dollars, but also a grain of insanity and a number of pennies to throw into a wishing well along with your prayers. All in the hopes the idea you created with will be successful.


wheel Reprint: The Wheel of InnovationThis brings me to the wheel. The wheel is probably the most important mechanical invention of all time. Nearly every machine built since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution involves this single, basic principle embodied in one of mankind’s truly significant inventions. It is hard to imagine any mechanized system that would be possible without the wheel or the idea of a symmetrical component moving in a circular motion on an axis. Various references all over the internet state that from ancient drawings, the earliest known use of this invention was a potter’s wheel that was used in Mesopotamia (part of modern day Iraq) as early as 3500 BC. You can find a wheel like component in every part of your life. It has been reworked, downsized, enlarged, given spokes and saw like grips. Yet everyone says “don’t reinvent the wheel.”

People have their reasons for saying this because it may be easier to go with the status quo or do what has been supposedly proven and repeated time and time again. Yet, I say, when there is an opportunity to change things, make them better and become innovative in what you do or how you think, by all means – reinvent the wheel. You can use the basis of many proven ideas and build upon them to create your own success.

In times like these, when everything around you seems like a desert, you may have to build an ark just to change things up a bit!

Innovation is not a strategy… it is a Process!

It is interesting how Innovation, like Leadership, has become a “sexy” term in business.

In times of difficulty, strife, cloudy markets and unpredictable work environments; business is beginning to preach “Innovation” as a silver bullet to all our ill’s.

However, Innovation - like Leadership - is a term and practice that is often not set in stone.

There is not often a ‘formal way’ to make an ‘informal practice’… formal.

Trying to formalize an informal process is like trying to tell a rock to fly.

Innovative ideas are much like evolution… they happen and show progress in their own time.


“You cannot plant a seed then dig it up everyday to see how it is doing!” - often you just need to give it what it needs to grow and then allow it to grow!

The curious perspective around Innovation

Innovation does not come from one or the many. Innovation comes from the fusion of one with the many.

While creativity, genius and organization are important in the contribution to Innovation this does not necessarily mean that you have to be the most creative, ingenius or organized person for innovation to take place… you simply need to act on the question “why”

Charles Leadbeater discussing Innovation

Brian Cox on Innovation

Apollo 13: INNOVATION through CHAOS

All of us have had to face a problem that has forced us to look at a situation, the problem and the process in a different way. This change of perspective is important. The chaos also allows you to focus more on solving the true issue rather than knowing you have plenty of time to put it off until you put it off again.

This scene in Apollo 13 expresses the core of problem solving. The C02 leak caused the whole team from the mission commander to the front line engineers to  focus on the real issue. It is the unfamiliar and unwanted that, at times, becomes the needed chaos to force you through innovation.

The Apollo 13 “problem” was one of the single greatest problems the NASA space program ever had. This event allowed for a new way of thinking about how they planned, build and dealt with disaster situations and preventing them from the potential of them happening again.

When is the last time you accepted and wrestled with chaos and allowed that chaos to change what needed to be changed?

How did your greatest disaster allow you to become great?



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