See­ing the world dif fer­ently

Idealog - - CONTENTS - Elly Strang Ed­i­tor

While putting to­gether this is­sue and judg­ing Idea­log’s Most In­no­va­tive Com­pa­nies Awards, our team was forced to con­front our own def­i­ni­tions of in­no­va­tion. We all know the usual de­scrip­tions pa­raded out along­side the term: trans­for­ma­tion, in­ven­tion, de­ter­mi­na­tion. But some­thing that tends to get lost in the con­ver­sa­tion – per­haps be­cause of the fiery, re­lent­less pas­sion of en­trepreneurs who are chas­ing their first busi­ness break­through – is know­ing where to draw the line in the quest for the per­fect prod­uct, ser­vice or idea. Per­fec­tion­ism is a dan­ger­ous path to head down be­cause in the end, in­no­va­tion can’t be forced. As the great Sir James Dyson put it, in­no­va­tion is that spark that comes from com­bin­ing cre­ativ­ity with it­er­a­tive de­vel­op­ment. And cre­ativ­ity is that bolt of in­spi­ra­tion that re­frames your per­spec­tive – like the shower thought that ran­domly hits you at the same time as that de­li­cious blast of warm wa­ter reaches your neck. This kind of epiphany rarely dawns on you when slumped over your desk, bleary eyed and de­flated, at 12am. So, I pro­pose a sim­ple – and in turn, bolder – way of look­ing at the term: in­no­va­tion is work­ing smarter, not harder. It’s hav­ing the courage to cast aside the temp­ta­tion of liv­ing the hero en­tre­pre­neur nar­ra­tive who grinds away la­bo­ri­ously, work­ing 80 to 120-hour weeks (here’s look­ing at you, Elon Musk). Be­cause while work­ing out­ra­geously long hours com­mands re­spect from fel­low hu­mans, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily pro­duce the best prod­uct. And while the de­vel­op­ment of ideas is es­sen­tial, one cru­cial part of the in­no­va­tion equa­tion – cre­ativ­ity – isn’t a nev­erend­ing foun­tain we can draw from at whim. It strikes when it wants, so try­ing to con­jure it when close to burn-out is about as help­ful as try­ing to cast a spell. Speak­ing of spells, I think Big Magic:

Cre­ative Liv­ing Be­yond Fear author El­iz­a­beth Gil­bert put it best when she said, “Per­fec­tion­ism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pre­tend­ing to be ele­gant when ac­tu­ally it’s just ter­ri­fied. Be­cause un­der­neath that shiny ve­neer, per­fec­tion­ism is noth­ing more than a deep ex­is­ten­tial angst that says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’” Within this is­sue, you’ll find peo­ple that have bro­ken away from the stan­dard modes of think­ing and are see­ing the world dif­fer­ently. There’s no doubt that they’ve put in some grave­yard shifts to de­velop their ideas – as well as had their fair share of angst – but their core busi­ness ideas draw strength from their unique per­spec­tive on a prob­lem, which in turn, cre­ates a con­fi­dence in know­ing when to re­lin­quish con­trol and present their idea to the world. From Si­mon Che de Boer’s brav­ery on how far to push vir­tual reality’s re­al­ism (page 55), to Shama Lee’s cru­sade to cre­ate a chicken-free chicken prod­uct hardly dis­tin­guish­able from the real thing (page 32), to Bri­anne West aim­ing to make the cos­metic bot­tle in­dus­try ob­so­lete (page 24), their ap­proach en­sures they are work­ing smarter, not harder. And of course, all our Most In­no­va­tive Com­pa­nies win­ners (page 98) fit the bill on this. So, as we head into the new year, we hope you leave just enough breath­ing room for that bolt of in­spi­ra­tion to strike you, too.

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