You come home from a busy day at work with no plan for dinner. You then rummage through your pantry, fridge, freezer and garden, piecing together ingredients for a meal. With a little bit of creativity, the end result winds up being a delicious and memorable meal because the ingredients were combined differently than what you would normally do.
In the quest for innovation, we often focus on inventing something completely new, thinking that we need to bring in new ingredients such as tools, materials or talent. Often, like with our dinnertime example, our most creative and innovative solutions come from combining ingredients we already have in new ways.
One of my favourite corporate innovation stories is how 3M invented the Post-It Note (TM) by combining ingredients already on hand. Originally trying to invent a super-glue, Spencer Silver invented a tacky reuseable glue. Another 3M scientist, Arthur Fry, needed to keep the bookmarks in his hymn book in place and applied Silver’s glue to yellow scraps of paper in his lab. Add the right brand name from the marketing team and Post-It Notes were launched in 1980.
Next time you are pressed to come up with something fresh, look at the ingredients you have. Is there a way you can combine them into something new? Can you look at them or use them differently? If you have good ingredients in your “pantry”, the opportunities to innovate may be much more than you first thought.
Other articles you may enjoy:
- The Art of Creativity
- Creatives and Project Managers
- Innovation Needs Talent And Discipline
- NPI: The Creativity Of The Funnel