11 January 2012
Two dots connected themselves for me recently as I was looking for inspiration on innovation. Their main connection will become apparent in a moment. Their other connection was that each dot came from the Harvard Business Review.
The first dot was written by Michael Schrage: "To inspire innovation, get a muse."
Artists have muses. Design engineers are just as artistic as painters, writers, filmmakers and composers; so why not?
"The aesthetics of software and silicon design demand every bit as much of creative elegance as a little black dress or a diamond bracelet. Why shouldn’t design engineers have muses?" Schrage wrote.
Why not indeed. My primary muse is walking. I love it, and I do a lot of it. It gets me out, stimulates my mind, pumps up my heart rate, and I think a lot. Sometimes I'll just walk about the office to think. I worked on a piece of this post while walking in order to get some of the clumps out of the forming blog batter. (I can't complain about what I can walk past on a given stroll, pictured right).
A muse is an excellent way to unleash creativity, bazooka a thought barrier, or look at a problem differently, which brings me to the second dot: Ana Dutra's piece "The Power of Pause."
"Why do people who have the potential and ability to think strategically, empower others and prioritize issues seemingly choose to micromanage — to act in a way that’s myopically short-termed and dive into every problem thrown their way? The answer is that it’s not a conscious choice. No executive chooses to behave this way, just like no executive wakes up in the morning thinking 'today I will really mess up and frustrate lots of people.'"
Think about it: you can't really have one without the other. A muse requires some form of pause, gazing at a piece of art that always inspires you or closeting your manic work activities to ponder.
"The important point is to create time and space to empty your mind and then reflect and filter issues."
We all struggle with inspiration and finding the time to consider things, yet it's crucial to innovation.