Thoughts on 2006
My Top 10 List of Business Books: 2006

What does Innovation Look Like?
Can you touch it?

Short introduction to this post: as part of the Innovation Forum in NYC last November, attendees were invited to create conversations around innovation at a 'table' or two in the break area. Each table had a stack of cards on them - with questions designed to get the conversation going. I'm going to share some of those questions, with comments on how effective I think it is in generating innovative thinking, and then...offer some of my own, to which you can offer your comments on how innovative they are.

From the forum under the heading "Light Fare": What's the one word that describes you? [oh please! this is so lame. they've been using this in personality studies and job interviews since the dawn of the last century.]

How about this, instead: What word of this series best applies to your attitude on life - and why? Apple pie, scuba diving, reality TV, touchalicious. 

My choice: touchalicious, of course. My attitude on life is to touch it, taste it, and swirl it around in my mouth a bit. The better to decide how much I like it. And, if I don't like it - well, I might spit it out or I might swallow it, and remember NOT to go there again.


Under "Medium Fare" the forum had this question: What's the most surprising transition of your professional life? [okay - that will generate conversation, and, after all, the cards were cheat sheets designed to get people talking...but really, now - wouldn't it be better to shock people into talking, instead of giving them contemplative sentences to unravel?]

How about this, instead: If you could CHANGE the order of the days of the week...what day would come first, and why? 

My answer: Wednesday. And, it would perform as Wednesday. I would start in the middle of the week, knowing that my work was already half-done, and that my break day was coming soon. Then, I would place Monday at the end of the week - the better to avoid it. Of course, on week two, I might make Tuesday the start of the week, with Monday in the middle, and let Saturday come in-between. Just to mix things  up a bit.

Under "Heavy Fare" the forum had these questions, under the sub-heading Think Inspiration: What inspires you? How do you inspire others? Describe a creative Time_travelcatalyst in your organization. [once again, they were stuck in ordinary mode; these questions do not inspire me, although I admit that I can see why they would have them.]

How about this, instead: Imagine you can travel back in time - back before the industrial revolution. It's your job to create, invent, DREAM UP, something that will improve the lifestyle of your friends and neighbors - but that you will get no credit for, until you die. What can you imagine creating - that will not only serve the current society, but last long into the future - and have us talking about it now, in the digital age of interconnectedness?

My answer: This question requires more thought than just a few moments of musing can complete. I think I would take it away with me - and let my inner child draw a picture of what I might do to improve the society of yesteryear, and have it last a dozen lifetimes. So, for the table talk, I think I would throw this question back to the participants: Can dreams, those fleeting, flimsy, wispy images that float about our brains as we sleep, have texture, taste, shape and color? If so, what texture, taste, shape and color are your dreams?

Care to join the discussion?


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