5 Innovation Quotes Worth Remembering

RocksWe’re bombarded with quotes around the topic of innovation every day. Thanks to social media and today’s sharing society, quotes by well-known (and unknown) figures are jockeyed about ad nauseam.

As we begin a new year, I’ve winnowed a list of 5 innovation quotes I feel are worth remembering. I’m happy to share them with you here.

“It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.” — Georgia O’Keeffe

“Your best plan is a plan to improvise.” — author unknown

“If I had an hour to save the world, I’d spend 59 minutes defining the problem and 1 minute finding solutions.” — Albert Einstein

“It ain’t innovation unless something moves.” — Bob Allen, IDEAS

“Get the customer first, then solve the problem.” — author unknown

What would you add to this list? Please share your comments via the “Leave a Reply” feature below.

by Rebecca Cochran

Can Snow Days Boost Our Creative Capacity?

SnowDayThanks to this year’s unusually disruptive winter weather, we’ve probably all experienced a few days in which our daily routines have been disrupted, as well. If you’re like me, your first reaction to these disruptions is probably negative. This year, however, I decided to rise above that negativity and turn each disruption into an opportunity.

When my first “snow day” of the year appeared, I decided to take the upper hand and proactively change my daily routine. Instead of heading out to my local Starbucks for coffee first thing, I decided to stay off the icy roads and enjoy a cup of tea at home. And, rather than quickly jumping online, I sat at my kitchen table and began mentally mapping out my workday. This led to my grabbing a sketch pad and marker and drawing a “mind map” to help me think through a new client project.

It had been awhile since I had begun a new project offline. With all of our digital tools so close at hand, it can be easy to forget the power of even a crude hand sketch to sort out a process. I ended up sharing my sketches with my client and I think that helped him better visualize our process, as well.

On another snow day, when all of my meetings were cancelled or rescheduled, I decided to flip my routine. Instead of saving my work-related reading for late in the evening, I began that morning with a reading session. Not only were my eyes fresher, but I was also able to apply several fresh, new ideas to my design work immediately that morning. This new routine made me wonder how many fresh, new ideas I “sleep on” and promptly forget following a late night reading session.

These little changes in the workday routine pointed out how valuable it can be to change things up more often. Rather than arbitrarily sticking to a set routine five days a week, we should allow disruption in more often. It just may boost our creative capacity and help us come at a problem from a new perspective.

What do you think?

by Rebecca Cochran

How Full is Your Creative Funnel?

Funnel (PSF)

by Rebecca Cochran

As a designer and creative thinker, I’ve learned the importance of what I call “filling my creative funnel.” It’s not always an easy thing to do.

I’ve realized that I function best, in my work and in my personal life, when I allow myself to regularly experience bursts of art, music and other thought-provoking events. When my body and mind become depleted, I can usually attribute that lackluster feeling to a near-empty creative funnel.

It’s not always easy to spot this depletion as it’s happening. The process is gradual. Amidst the workday routine and the rigors of running a business, the emptying funnel often sneaks up on me. With experience, however, I’m learning to seize meaningful opportunities to recharge that funnel.

Being a musician as well as a designer, I’ve learned to troll the key online portals to keep abreast of music and performers of interest to me. I also use Twitter to stay current on who is performing where. And, I follow my favorite museums to learn about special exhibitions and other events. I also allow for serendipity to play a part.

The late summer cultural desert is usually tough for me to get through. After the excitement of early to mid-summer music festivals, by late summer my funnel is running on empty. Once the fall performance season finally gets fully underway, I’m typically deluged with opportunities for a cultural and creative recharge.

Take, for example, the last ten days. It began with a Hindemith Lives! celebration at UNC School of the Arts to commemorate 50 years since composer Paul Hindemith’s passing. The UNCSA faculty presented an entire evening of seldom heard chamber works by Hindemith, the majority of which I was unfamiliar. It provided a welcome burst of creative insight.

A few days later, I was at UNC-Chapel Hill enjoying pianist András Schiff’s performance of the Bach Goldberg Variations (along with Beethoven as an encore). The next evening, I was on the edge of my seat taking in Opera Carolina’s performance of Verdi’s Aida.

Wedged in between these music performances, I attended two events sponsored by my local AIGA chapter, as part of Triad Design Week. The first was a screening of the Design & Thinking documentary. (In fact, I was invited to deliver the opening remarks.) The second was a keynote by Doug Powell, designer and studio lead of the new IBMDesign group out of Austin. He delivered an excellent talk on Enhancing Brands with Design.

As Monday morning has rolled around, my creative funnel is full again. I can’t predict when these creative bursts will happen for me, but I have learned to seize them when they present themselves. I’m much more centered, creative and focused when my creative funnel is stoked. I also have fresh stories to share, more opportunities to connect more dots and, best of all, a big smile on my face.

What are your experiences? How do you keep your creative juices flowing?