Chapter 8. The Essence of Innovation

Responsiveness calls for continuous innovation. Responsiveness means always looking for ways to improve existing operations and finding simple yet robust ways to respond quickly to new opportunities when they appear. To do this we need to make innovation into a regular habit, not just an occasional occurrence. It's too bad innovation doesn't happen from hard work alone; if it did, we'd have all we needed.

But innovation calls for more than just working hard. At the center of every innovation there is the proverbial "Aha" moment, that moment of inspiration when you see something about a particular problem that you had not seen before. I have learned a lot about this moment of inspiration from my wife, who is an artist. She is a dancer and choreographer, and I've watched her go through the process of looking for inspiration and innovation as she creates a new dance composition. Sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere; sometimes it comes from a piece of music or a picture; and sometimes, to my surprise, it comes from something I say or do.

Getting inspiration and then crafting it into a stage production is what a performing artist does. Getting inspiration and crafting it into a business offering (a service or product) is what an innovative executive does. Perhaps no one would call us artists, but in order to foster innovation, we businesspeople need to learn from artists.


When seeking innovation we typically ask, "How do we get ...

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