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Innovative Thinking is Not a Big Deal

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18/04/2016 |

7 min read


We are steadfast in our commitment to innovation. In the business world, it's akin to the Holy Grail. Innovation is a business, but it is business as usual. To comprehend this common occurrence, we must consider an individual's potential. 

Below, we will show you how innovative thinking works and what it could mean for your business.


The process of change: what constitutes innovative thinking?

You're probably wondering whether there is even a useful definition of innovative thinking. A prudent guess is that there are at least ten more than we actually require, focusing on lengthy lists of critical factors that enable us to develop the mythical innovative skill

Still, as the practice tends to outrun the theory, we will demonstrate the concept's background using a business-friendly example.


Innovation as a process

Let us begin simply by considering innovation as a process. Clearly, this process has a primary goal – to change. Now focus. Generally, we believe that innovation must always result in the creation of something new. We tend to associate innovative thinking with invention, which results in the creation of novel, heavily patented devices or technologies. 

However, the change mentioned previously (as in, to achieve our innovation goal) is also open to improving the current state – no matter if we are actually good right now, it aims to improve the good, and explore the differences.

Thus, as a first step, we should recognize that innovative thinkers do not always rely on spectacular ideas. Sometimes, it is better to invest time in small but brilliant improvements rather than reinventing the wheel. Do not disregard years of best practices. Prepare in advance. Consider each step.

It’s in our DNA

And when it comes to thinking, remember that the whole process of change begins nowhere else but inside our minds. Innovative thinking is a natural function of our brains. In fact, it has been demonstrated that humans are genetically predisposed to develop innovation. It is ingrained in our DNA.

The key is to become aware of our enormous potential and to begin utilizing it, as mastering innovative thinking requires repeated practice.


Knowledge matters – and so does its quantity

Without knowledge, there can be no innovation. But as specialists in one specific field, we can’t ignore the other areas. Because the best insight comes from combining multiple perspectives, being unilateral limits our options. Connections are always at the heart of innovation.


Feed your brain with new perspectives

Consider your own knowledge as a network of thousands of records (facts). It is nearly impossible to introduce innovation into this system, as all facts appear to be inextricably linked.  Everything is trusted, proven, already simplified. To overcome this barrier, it’s best to “feed” your knowledge with new perspectives, and thus with new records that will broaden your awareness.

This new knowledge, this new perspective, is a matter of innovation, of filling the brain's essence. It gives us a new kind of material, so we can build on it. Think lego sets; anyone can construct a structure using the standard set of blocks – acquiring the predicted outcome, visualized in the instruction. 

But what if we combine our standard set with some parts from two, three or more different block sets? The results are unexpected, depending on our knowledge of our own set and it’s limitations. 

Keep an open mind, regardless of how distant your own field may appear. An open mind is one of the three great forces that propel innovative thinking.


Creativity is a tool 

If knowledge is a matter, then creativity is a tool. This tool should be used to connect allegedly mismatching blocks from different sets in an unexpected, yet beneficial way. Still, many of us – especially in strictly technical fields – are constrained by the belief that only exceptional individuals are predestined to think creatively. That is not true, and we will explain why. 

Let’s start with asking ourselves how our brain thinks. The mind is an enormous “computer” that works in a multi-sensory manner, by processing images and associations. As a result, it contains billions of association chains, each of which contains millions of connections and nodes that form a web for processing all incoming data. Sounds powerful, right? It surely is. 

Just think about one of those sleepless nights, when your mind is racing so rapidly that you're unsure where all those thoughts and memories originated. In fact, at this very moment you were experiencing the true nature of your own brain's activity at the time. You're probably also aware that the best way to disentangle yourself from this mental tangle is to let your mind run wild. And then the best ideas are born. 

That is why some of the most creative thinkers prefer to sleep on a problem rather than brainstorm it for several hours consecutively. Try to relax while facing a thinking problem. Clear your mind for a few minutes a day with meditation or while commuting – and you’ll be surprised with the outcomes of your own mind. 

To illustrate creativity, we'll use another straightforward example. 

Do you remember “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”? Likely you do, and not only because this cartoon is bonded with some of your best childhood memories. Now, think about the phrase “ninja turtle” for a minute. Isn't it strange that this almost natural pairing of words effortlessly combines two polar opposites: ninja (as in super fast, unnoticeable movements) and turtle (as in, extremely slow)? This is what we refer to as creativity – an ability to connect our associations in an unexpected way. 

The point is, the brain specializes in connecting associations, constantly processing the stream of data, provided by our body and the environment. It can’t stop, it can’t be worse but it can be better – if properly trained. New connections have an unexpected effect only when your knowledge is diverse and divided. Therefore, broaden your horizons and abandon the patterns engendered by conventional thinking.


The motivation wins it all 

The critical factor is the method of small steps, in which innovation is defined as the accumulation of details – smart but not large ideas that when combined have a significant effect. We must be conscientious and accountable for our actions. 

Do not put off tasks that come to mind for later. Prove them, confront them, and most importantly, do not allow yourself to be ignorant. Ignorance is perpetually fearful of change, keeps you in the same place, and prevents you from progressing.

If you become more receptive to new knowledge and perspectives, your brain will do an excellent job of connecting them in unexpected ways. The remainder is entirely up to your motivational "engine". 

It wouldn't hurt to stop glorifying innovation because the processes that underpin it are routine and familiar to all of us.


Is there a place for innovative thinking in our everyday work? 

There’s always a lot of things which could be improved. A company's greatest strength is in its people who see these small details and have the desire to upgrade them. Innovative thinkers, who could be any of us, can create a space that is effective and meets their expectations through their subsequent actions. 

The company should understand, support, and value initiatives coming from individuals. And while individuals should recognize their immense power, they can also view it as an opportunity to practice innovative thinking on a daily basis. 

Employees have brilliant ideas, take our word for it. Support for employee initiatives is key for us at Codete. It's a very important element of the knowledge-sharing culture that we're building. We've learnt its power in practice during the past decade. 

By the way, feel free to check out our current openings if you're looking for new career opportunities in IT >

And, perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that innovation is about small steps that lead – sometimes treacherously, but always – to great change.

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