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Innovation Is A State Of Mind

(category: Innovation, Word count: 510)
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You probably know the myth of innovation as a sudden flash of insight that comes from nowhere. We read about that "aha" moment, or that light bulb turning on in the mind of some inventor or innovator, and this is true to an extent. Einstein really did get flashes of insight while shaving in the morning. However, he was of course working on the particular problems he had insight into, and he didn't suddenly have ideas for new kitchen gadgets or movie plots.

Einsteins innovations, in other words, no matter how "sudden" the original ideas were, came from past and present mental work. It is like a singer who works at his craft for ten years and then becomes an "overnight success." Innovative people only have "sudden" new ideas because they have habitually worked and thought in certain ways for some time. If you want to become an innovative thinker, then, why not start cultivating those mental habits?

Mental Habits Lead To Innovation

Problems can be opportunities. "Problem" may have a negative connotations, such as being a hassle or stressful, but any problem can lead to an innovation that improves our lives. Not knowing the time lead to clocks small enough to put on our wrists. Nasty diseases lead to sanitary sewer systems. Start looking for opportunity in every problem. Even a mundane problem like not having enough storage space could lead to a new innovation. You may just build a plywood floor in the attic, but you could invent a new type of outdoor storage unit.

Innovation begins with understanding the key elements. Metal, wood or glass are not key elements of a door to an innovator. A way to get in, a way to keep others out - these are key elements. Begin with these, and soon you're imagining new ways to make a door. You could design a door that is opened by your voice (nice when your hands are full), or one that shuts and locks itself when anyone else approaches. Think of the key elements in things.

Attitude helps innovation. The creative problem-solving technique of concept-combination involves combining two ideas to see what new idea or product results. The crucial point is that you assume there will be a useful new idea. Starting with that assumption, your mind will work overtime to produce something. A shoe and a CD have nothing to do with each other, but it took just a minute to imagine a CD player with headphones that only plays the music correctly if a jogger maintains his ideal pace. When you assume there is something there you'll often find something.

Playfulness helps innovation. A playful mind is a creative mind, and while high IQ doesn't correlate with creativity, put it together with playfulness, and you have an Einstein. Remember, he imagined himself riding on a beam of light in order to arrive at his theory of relativity. Why not start playing with ideas and things, in your mind and in your surroundings. Innovation should be fun.

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Inventions Innovation And Creativity

(category: Innovation, Word count: 610)
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Creativity is what sets you apart from your competitors. Competition may kill your business, but if you are creative enough you won't ever have to fear competition. Fortunes are often born in creative minds. A simple idea can turn into a never ending stream of cash. If you innovate, there are no limits or boundaries for you. The sky is the limit.

So, it can be said that one of the most important factors a company may have is the ability to come up with fresh ideas, new concepts, sophisticated marketing techniques. People like new things. Everyone wants to create something new. People struggle to be different in today's marketplace.

If you do a simple research you will find out that creativity is one of the things that make people become rich. Often, the more you create the more money you make. This requires effort and dedication. To see the opportunity where no one else see it.

I firmly believe that fortunes can be made. You simply have to define a problem and find a solution. Then capitalize on that solution. Problems are everywhere and the bigger the problem that you find the solution to, the bigger the chance you will make a lot of money from your idea.

You can create anything. It can be an invention, an e-book with information, art, a scientific breakthrough, etc. Just find a need and try to fill it. I guess you have heard that many times already, but it is true. The easiest way to make money is to help other people make money or help them solve their problems and receive some compensation from your efforts.

Isn't that what capitalism is all about? To allow people to become rich by enriching other people's lives? You don't need to chase money nor go after wealth. When you add value to the life of others you usually receive compensation for it. The best way to add value is to come up with a creative solution that no one thought about before.

This is not always easy. Sometimes the ideas will come fast and smoothly. Other times you will have to think hard about the solution. Keep in mind that the harder the problem and the better the solution, the more money you can make from it.

At the end making money may not be that hard for you. Once you get used to it you can do it often. The business of innovation has always being one of the most profitable businesses you can participate on. Creativity is something that come from the inside. It originates within your mind.

This is certainly one of the most important factors that an entrepreneur should take into consideration. It can make a huge difference in your businesses. Remember that there is no limit to what you can create. So, you can make a lot of money by just adding value to the life of others and finding solutions to complex problems that you can find everywhere.

The decision is yours. Most people work hard all their lives because they try to imitate what others do all the time. Work on those creative skills and improve them. You will be glad you did.

It doesn't take a genius to create something new. You don't have to be too smart. Sometimes the ideas originate from your intentions or they just come to you. Probably you already have thoughts about how to improve something or create something new that does not exist yet. You just have to polish that idea and give it a try. You may be amazed at the results.

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Creative Solutions Using What If

(category: Innovation, Word count: 437)
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For the most creative solutions you need to get your mind looking in new directions. One of the most systematic ways to do this, is with a list of words, primarily adjectives, to create "what if?" scenarios. The process starts with the question, "what if it was..." and then you insert a word from the list. "It" in the question is the problem you're working on, or the current solution or situation.

Let's explain the process with an example or two.

Example one: You have is an unpleasant co-worker. You aren't sure how to deal with him, so you ask about the problem, "What if it was..." and insert from the list "smaller." How could you make the problem smaller? Spend less time with that person? Get reassigned?

"What if it was... fun?" makes you wonder if being annoying yourself might keep the other person away from you. "Closer" makes you wonder if this person might be nicer to you if they knew you better. You continue down the list and work with each word a bit to get new ideas, which you will look at more analytically later.

Example two: Your house is too crowded because you're running your business from it. You ask, "What if it was..." and insert from the word list, "smaller." Your house is already too small, but could the business be smaller? The word "divided" might give you the idea to keep the business in just one part of the house.

Since most words on the list won't help, you can go through the irrelevant ones quickly. But don't automatically dismiss them without a few seconds consideration. "What if it was hopeless?" may seem like a useless question, or it may make you realize that you just can't keep the business in the house any longer. Moving into a rented office might be the most profitable of your creative solutions.

The Creative Solutions Word List

Feel free to create your own list of words. You'll want to use adjectives, descriptive phrases, and any words that can change your perspective. Here is a short list to get you started:

What if it was... larger, smaller, farther away, closer, sooner, later, easier, more difficult, higher, fat, rich, short, black, certain, hopeless, newer, boring, casual, subtracted from, cheaper, common, divided, more interesting, extravagant, subtle, or fun?

Just as with most problem solving techniques, it's important to allow the ideas to flow without judging them initially. You don't want to stifle the creative process. Take notes, then evaluate your ideas later, when you have a page full of creative solutions.

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Looking Back To Move Forward

(category: Innovation, Word count: 405)
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Another year is over. Take a moment to reflect on the past years.Start with an honest evaluation of your accomplishments, successes and failures.

Welcome the new year with a celebration of the past. Whatever challenges you faced last year, you are here to face another year. You are inspired and ready to tackle new endeavours, explore new horizons and reach for the stars.

Looking back helps to evaluate what worked and what didn't. Some issues seem to be replayed over and over. How many years has it been that you've promised to be more vigilant about your diet and exercise? What about the overuse of your credit card? How do you manage your time? What is it going to be this year? What are your priorities?

It's all a matter of perspective. Somewhere in the past, you stumbled and for a while, you were spinning your wheels. Take heart, that is past. There is a deep

well of strength and courage within you. And you moved on.

No one passes through this life without knowing pain and heartache. Add to this regret over lost opportunities, wrong choices and wrong decisions. These do not define your life. It is the lessons learned from these , and the determination to do better. Reap the nuggets of precious insights from the muddle and move on.

How well do you take care of your mental, physical and spiritual self? If you believe in taking care of your mental and spiritual well-being, your physical

health will definitely reap the benefits. Do you allow yourself time alone to enjoy peace and quiet? Have you learned to say NO. Do you take time to appreciate the beauty , the bounty and the blessings of the universe?

Stress is the scourge of living in the fast lane and getting caught up in the pursuit of material success. Consider seriously the level of your stress over the past years and how it affects your health. Think about this- your stress level impacts on your relationships, your career, your family and your whole life.

Some pursue elusive dreams. How long has it been? Ask yourself. Perhaps it's time to re-assess that dream. Times change. There are other avenues to pursue. Don't get stuck chasing after something that loses its value, its luster as time moves on. Don't let life pass you by.

Look back honestly, but kindly. And move on.

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What Innovation Can Do To Your Life

(category: Innovation, Word count: 734)
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It's a talent that everyone has, yet they think they don't. The power of innovation. If you've ever marvelled at somebody's creative prowess, guess what, you can create and innovate too. It just takes time. Everyone is born creative. The box of crayons in kindergarten were not limited to those who possessed potential; because the truth is, everybody has potential.

You know how long it took to learn to ride a bike or drive or to never commit the same mistake again? It's the same with innovation. It takes a bit of practice and a lot of time before this mind function comes easily when called. This article will teach you a few tips on how to bring innovation into your life.

Don't listen to what other people say. Follow the beat of your own drum. Allowing for the input of other people will only bring cacophony to the music you are trying to make. If you have an original idea, don't waste your time and effort trying to make people understand. They won't. And the help you will probably get comes in the form of negative feedback. If all those geniuses listened to their peers, we would probably still be living in the middle ages.

Spend time on it. I cannot stress that enough, although, please do not mistake this tip to tell you to quit your day job entirely. Do not. This involves some tricky time management but with a little discipline you'll be able to squeeze both in.

Exercise. Take a walk. Run a mile or two. Send all those endorphins coursing through your veins. Exercising certainly clears and relaxes your mind and allows for anything to pop up.

Record your dreams. Aren't some of them just the craziest things that your conscious mind would never have thought of? If you've had these dreams before, and I'm sure have, this only shows you the untapped innovative power you have lying within. So jot down those notes. Those dreams may just create an innovative spark in you.

Find your own style. You can always tell a Van Gogh from a Matisse. You'll know Hemingway wrote something by the choice of words on the paper. So it is the same with you. People will appreciate your innovation more because it is uniquely yours and that no one else would have thought of what you were thinking. That will let people see how valuable an asset you are.

Don't hide behind nifty gadgets or tools. You don't need the most expensive set of paints to produce a masterpiece. The same way with writing. You don't need some expensive fountain pen and really smooth paper for a bestseller. In fact, J.K. Rowling wrote the first book of the Harry Potter Series on bits of tissue. So what if you've got an expensive SLR camera if you're a crappy photographer? Who cares if you've got a blinging laptop if you can't write at all? The artist actually reduces the number of tools he has as he gets better at his craft: he knows what works and what doesn't.

Nothing will work without passion. What wakes you up in the mornings? What keeps the flame burning? What is the one thing that you'll die if you don't do? Sometimes people with talent are overtaken by the people who want it more. Think the hare and the tortoise. Ellen Degeneres once said that if you're not doing something that you want to do, then you don't really want to do it. And that's true. Sometimes you just want something so bad you become a virtual unstoppable. And that is passion. Passion will keep you going.

Don't worry about inspiration. You can't force it; inspiration hits when you least expect it to, for those unpredictable yet inevitable moments you should prepare. An idea could strike you on the subway, yet alas, you poor unfortunate soul; you have no sheet of paper to scribble down a thought that could change the world. Avoid these disasters. Have a pen and paper within your arm's reach at all times.

I hope this article has helped you bring more innovation into your life. Keep in mind that you're doing these things for your own satisfaction and not anybody else's. But soon enough they will notice, and everything should snowball from there.

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Mind Power Through Mindfulness

(category: Innovation, Word count: 373)
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Basic mindfulness exercises put you in a state of awareness where distractions are let go, and your mind power is able to function more effectively. They help you think more clearly and concentrate better. They are also easy exercises to do.

More Mind Power in Minutes

A basic mindfulness exercise starts with sitting down, relaxing and breathing deeply through your nose. Close your eyes and be aware of your breath going in and out. After a minute, move your attention to your body, one part at a time, noting sensations of cold, hot, tight, sore and anything else you identify. In a few minutes, start listening to sounds in the room, without thinking about them. Just listen.

When it feels right, open your eyes and look around as if you are seeing for the first time. Rest your eyes on an object for half a minute, examining it without talking about it in your mind. Then move to another object, and another, while still maintaining an awareness of your body, your breathing, and any sounds. Stay in this state of mindfulness until you are ready to get up.

Being aware of your body, breath and immediate enviroment, puts you more fully "in the moment." Your mind is in a very receptive state, with fewer mental distractions that prevent clear thinking. Doing a mindfulness exercise before important mental tasks will give you greater mind power, specifically more focus and concentration.

An Even Easier Mindfulness Trick

Try this one today: When you feel stressed, stop, and carefully watch yourself to identify what's bothering you. Maybe you're expecting something bad to happen, or an argument is going on just below the surface of your consciousness, or you're worried about something, or in pain in some way. Make a note of everything you find.

Then deal with these mind-irritants. Make a phone call that's on your mind, take an aspirin, apologise to whomever you were fighting with. Write things on tomorrow's list, to get them off your mind. If there's nothing you can do right now, tell yourself that. Do this exercise, and you'll feel less stressed, and more able to concentrate on the tasks at hand. You'll have more mind power today.

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Thinking Outside The Box The How To

(category: Innovation, Word count: 523)
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When innovators talk about thinking outside the box, they mean coming up with creative ways to solve problems - new ways to look at things. How do they do it? How can you do it too? We first have to ask what the "box" is. Then we can look at how to get outside of it.

The "box" is the normal way of doing things and looking at things. It is the assumptions that almost everyone involved is making. The best way to start thinking out of the box then, is to identify and challenge all the assumptions that make up thinking inside the box.

One of the major liquor brands was faltering years ago, and they couldn't seem to boost their sales. Promotions, lowering the price, getting better shelf placement - these were the "in the box" solutions. Then someone challenged the assumptions, by asking "What if we stopped the promotions and just raised the price?"

The price was raised as an experiment, and sales soon doubled. As it turns out, some types of liquor are bought quite often as gifts. Buyers don't want to buy the most expensive one, but they also don't want to seem cheap, so they won't buy products that don't cost enough. Now imagine what happens to your profit margins when you raise the price and double the sales. That's the power of thinking outside of the box.

Ways To Get Outside The Box

Challenging assumptions is a powerful creative problem solving technique. The difficult part is to identify the assumptions. If you are designing a new motorcycle, write down assumptions like "speed matters," "it has to run on gas" and "it needs two wheels," not because you expect to prove these wrong, but because challenging these can lead to creative possibilities. Maybe the time has come for an electric three-wheeled motorcycle.

Another way to get to creative solutions is to "assume the absurd." This is either fun or annoying, depending on how open-minded you can be. All you do is start making absurd assumptions, then finding ways to make sense of them. The easiest way to do it is by asking "what if."

What if a carpet cleaning business was better off with half as many customers? It seems absurd, but work with it. Hmm...less stressful, perhaps. More profitable if each customer was worth three times as much. Is that possible? Commercial jobs that involve large easy-to-clean spaces (theaters, offices, convention halls) make more money in a day than houses, with fewer headaches. Focusing on getting those accounts could be the most profitable way to go - not so absurd.

Another way to more innovative ideas is to literally do your thinking out of the box. Get out of the house or the office. Look around at how others are doing things. On busses in Ecuador, salesmen put a product into everyones hands and let them hold it while they do a sales pitch. Then you have to give back "your" product or pay for it. It is very effective. How could you use the principle in your business?

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Anchoring With Nlp

(category: Innovation, Word count: 1873)
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There was some sunshine this weekend while I was writing this! At least here on the sunny south coast of England there was. I went out walking along the sea front with my partner Sara on Saturday morning and it was wonderful; the feeling of sunshine on my face, the smell of the air, the sites of other people out and about and happy, the local land train was shuttling people and their excited children back and forth from Bournemouth pier to Boscombe Pier and my senses were filled - a major event for human neurophysiology (mine anyway!)

The funny thing is, later on that evening when my friends were joking about my pink coloured forehead, I told them that I was really looking forward to summer and as I spoke, I felt the sun on me, imagined the fun I was going to have on the beach, remembered the smell, the amazing feeling of joy that I get from being there, just by anticipating it all.

A natural phenomenon we can replicate with NLP techniques. NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming, which is just a methodology for helping make changes. We shorten it to NLP for easy understanding.

Without realising it, the time I had spent on the sea front earlier that day had acted as an anchor for the wonderful experience which immediately followed it. The next time I saw & heard the experience, albeit in my mind, my neurology went "I know what happens now" and started to produce the intense physical responses that it 'knew' were coming next.

In the field of NLP, an anchor is any representation in the human nervous system that triggers any other representation. For instance, the word 'sex' will immediately trigger images, sounds etc associated with that word. The word 'chocolate' will trigger different associations. I am not too sure which of those will create the most intense feelings though! These words are anchors. Anchors do not have to be words, they can be a wide range of things.

With NLP, we identify that anchors can operate in any representational system (ie. sight, sound, feeling, smell, taste.) Let me give you some examples;

Tonal: By that, I mean for example, the special way a certain person has of saying your name, like when a friend or family member says it. My mother shouting my name from the depths of my home when I was a child often signalled the fact that she had discovered something that I had done that meant trouble for me! "Adam!" often made me feel what I was in store for.

Tactile: The effect of a certain type of handshake for example, or the sensation of a reassuring hug compared to a loving cuddle. Rekindles all kinds of wonderful feelings.

Visual: The way people respond to certain items of clothing. I recently had lunch with a group of my friends from the town where I grew up and several of them commented on the jacket I was wearing. Now, whenever they see it, it reminds them of those comments and makes them smile.

Olfactory: Like when you smell a certain kind of food being cooked can suddenly have you remembering a time when you were in the school cafeteria.

Gustatory: The taste of your favourite food or the way certain foods can make you remember how you felt when you had it before. Maybe like when you were given soup and a big helping of love and sympathy when you were young and off school because you were poorly. I know every time I eat Heinz Tomato soup it reminds me of just that.

Once again, in the field of NLP, an anchor is any representation in the human nervous system that triggers any other representation. It is conceptually similar to Pavlovian conditioning (ie. bells and salivating dogs; some of Pavlovs findings feature in the field of NLP.

While the anchor I created for the sea front was unintentional, it is possible for you to use this NLP tecnique to anchor yourself intentionally. Have a go at this and learn this NLP technique for yourself......

Fistly, think of an occasion when you had a highly pleasurable, positive or enjoyable experience. See what you saw then (looking out through your own eyes), hear what you heard and feel what you felt. As you feel the sensations increase in intensity, squeeze the thumb & forefinger of your left hand gently together for a few moments, then release them. Now 'break your state' (Eg. by remembering what you had for lunch yesterday.) Squeeze your thumb & forefinger together again, gently pulsing them. The state will return.

To make the most of anchoring with NLP, it is important to really engage in the experience and make it wonderfully vivid in your mind and to then also put effort into recalling it when you first activate your NLP anchor for a few times. Imagine how powerful this can be when you want to feel wonderful if you are home, feeling gloomy. Instead of reaching for the chocolate, you can start to activate your "feel good" anchor.

Every time you want to get motivated to exercise, just activate your enthusiasm anchor. It is a really simple technique of NLP.

This is a simple but powerful NLP technique that can enable you to have access to the states and resources you want, when you want them. The use of thumb & forefinger is an example of a tactile anchor, but you can use any representation to anchor something for yourself or someone else.

Guidelines for setting anchors with NLP;

In order to get a 'strong' anchor for an experience, it is important to

a) Ensure that you have a powerful example of the experience to work with.

b) Anchor in as many representational systems as possible (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, etc).

c) Set the anchor just before the experience peaks.

d) When you activate the anchor, do it accurately. Be precise!

e) With tactile (kinaesthetic) anchors, pulsing the anchor can help to maintain the experience

One of the people who came on one of my NLP training courses was particularly taken with the idea of anchoring. Shortly after the NLP training, one morning his wife offered to make him a cup of tea, and as she did so, he gently tapped the side of his cup with his ring. He repeated this the next few times she made him a cup of tea. After a while, all he had to do was tap the side of his cup subtly with his ring & she would spontaneously offer to get him a cup of tea!! Very Naughty use of NLP, Eh?! Just by creating a sensory representation (tapping the cup) that coincided with her making tea, he was soon able to use that representation as a trigger for what he wanted. He did eventually share his NLP anchoring experience with his wife and you can be sure he makes a lot more tea than she does now!

Now I know that by now some of you may be thinking "But isn't that manipulative?!?" One answer is "Yes, so use it for doing good stuff!"

Another answer is "no." It is no more manipulative than making yourself look good and smell nice when you go out. In those situations you are trying to get people to think the best of you and have a good response to you, a response that you are attempting to anchor through your choice of clothing, grooming and smelly perfume.

Here are some of the sorts of things that I go out of my way to use NLP to anchor whenever I see them or experience them:

- Smiles.

- Laughter.

- Excitement

- Confidence

- Good feelings

- Good performance (especially by waiters & waitresses!)

- Anything that looks good, useful or fun; Achievement and success are especially useful for stopping smoking, reducing weight or growing in confidence.

It's happening all the time anyway:

As I said at the beginning, anchoring with NLP is a naturally occurring phenomenon anyway. You are exposed to it all the time in everything you do. Everyone is doing this stuff all the time, often without really knowing it. All I am inviting you to do is to become conscious of the anchors that you and others are setting (maybe using NLP), and to start using them purposefully to get good results, rather than randomly to get whatever you get. Use NLP with mindfulness.

Taking this a step further;

Recently, I was working with a team of related staff members with regards to doing some NLP consulting with them. I asked them how they would know that the two days had been a great success. One of them said it would have a 'feel good factor' and simultaneously made a gesture with both hands towards his tummy. When I repeated the words 'feel good factor' to him, he nodded in confirmation. Later on, I referred to the feel good factor, and simultaneously used his gesture. Instead of a nod of confirmation, I got a full physiological response, including skin colour changes, posture and energy changes...the full works. His words had been a good anchor, but the words plus the gesture were far more complete. When I used both, I got a full response. I continued to use the anchor throughout the consultation. At no time was he aware that I was using NLP & his anchors - he just had the experience of being really well understood.

You can use NLP anchors to capture and re-use positive experiences for yourself & others. Now have a go at doing this NLP exercise too...

1) Think of an occasion when you had a highly pleasurable, positive or enjoyable experience. See what you saw then (looking out through your own eyes), hear what you heard and feel what you felt. As you feel the sensations increase in intensity, squeeze the thumb & forefinger of your left hand gently together for a few moments, then release them. Now 'break your state' (Eg. by remembering what shoe you put on first today.) Squeeze your thumb & forefinger together again, gently pulsing them. The state will return.

2) Identify something that someone you know already does, and create a subtle anchor. Set the anchor while they are doing the activity. Later, fire your NLP anchor and see what happens. If they do the thing you anchored, then it worked!

3) When you (or someone you are with) are experiencing something you want to have more of, anchor it.

As usual, remember that this stuff is powerful so use your NLP skills wisely. As well, allow yourself to start becoming aware of when it is being used on you. Advertisers, politicians and stand-up comedians all know the power of NLP anchors and use them with great cunning (and to great effect.) Awareness with NLP is the key - have fun.

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Innovation The Life Blood Of Your Business

(category: Innovation, Word count: 741)
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If you're running or managing a business and want it to be around for a long time, you need to spend a good part of your time innovating. That's because, in a fast-moving world, where people expect things to get better and better, and cheaper and cheaper, innovation is your route to getting ahead of your competition.

Here are 7 ways to put new life blood into your organization through innovation.

1. Create An Innovative Climate. Goran Ekvall of Lund University in Sweden has defined three conditions needed for a climate of innovation. They are: trust, dynamism, and humour. One of Ekvall's case studies was a Swedish newspaper where the team working on the women's section consistently outperformed all the other teams. The reason? Quite simply, this group trusted one another, had a high level of energy and shared a common sense of humour.

2. Develop Washing-Up Creativity. According to the Roffey Park Management Institute, most flashes of inspiration come to people when they are away from work and not forcing their conscious brains to find solutions to their problems. For some, ideas come while mowing the lawn or taking the dog for a walk or playing golf or waiting on a railway station. For Isaac Newton, it was an apple on the head while sitting in the garden. For Archimedes, it was in the bath. For others it's while doing the dishes; that's why Roffey Park calls these flashes of insight: "washing-up creativity".

3. Make New Connections. Making new connections between existing features of your product or service is a popular way to innovate. Akio Morita, chairman of Sony, said that he invented the Walkman because he wanted to listen to music while walking between shots on his golf course. His team simply put together two seemingly incompatible products: a tape recorder and a transistor radio.

4. Find Out What People Need. Necessity is a great spur to innovation. Take, for example, writing paper. The Chinese had already made paper from rags around the year 100 BC but because there was no need for it, nothing came of it. When it did reach Europe in the Middle Ages when writing was all the rage, the supply of rags and worn-out fabric soon dried up. That's when a French naturalist made the discovery that wasps made their nests by chewing wood into a mash that dried in thin layers. Within 100 years, all paper was made using the idea of wood pulp.

5. Test, Test, Test. Product testing is the way most inventors and organizations go about innovation. It may not be the quickest route to success, but it is often the surest. Jonas Salk, for example, discovered the polio vaccine by spending most of his time testing and testing and continually finding out what didn't work. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the filament light bulb, recorded 1300 experiments that were complete failures. But he was able to keep going because, as he said, he knew 1300 ways that it wasn't going to work.

6. Adopt and Adapt. One relatively easy approach to innovation is to notice how others deal with problems and then adapt their solutions to your own. It's known as "adapt and adopt". It's what watchmakers Swatch did when they realized that the more reliable their watches became, the less people needed to replace them. Their solution? Borrow an idea from the world of fashion and collections by turning their watches into desirable fashion accessories. Now people buy Swatch watches not just to tell the time but because it's cool to do so.

7. Take Lessons From Nature. If you really want to be inventive, you can't beat nature. The world of nature gives us an endless supply of prototypes to use in our own world. Take Velcro, for example. Velcro was patented by Georges de Mestral in 1950 after he returned from a hunting trip covered in tiny burrs that had attached themselves to his clothing by tiny overlapping hooks. De Mestral quickly realized that here was an ideal technique to fasten material together. A whole new way of doing things was suddenly invented.

The history of the world is the history of innovation. Thomas Kuhn called each acceptance of a new innovation a "paradigm shift". For once a new innovation becomes accepted, the world has changed for ever and can never go back to the way it was.

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