The pressure to generate big ideas can feel overwhelming. We know that bold innovations are critical in these disruptive and competitive times, but when it comes to breakthrough thinking, we often freeze up.
In his latest book, New York Times best-selling author and tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner suggests a better approach. Instead of shooting for a $10 billion IPO or a Nobel Prize, Linkner argues that the most prolific innovators focus instead on "big little breakthroughs" -- small creative acts that unlock massive rewards over time.
These micro-innovations are less risky, accessible to everyone in an organization, and deliver meaningful results while helping individuals develop their creative skillset.
Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small, Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results provides a pragmatic methodology to cultivating inventive thinking, creative problem solving, and innovation, one baby step at a time.
Making the case that we can all be "everyday innovators," Linkner shares the mindsets and tactics of everyday people doing exceptional things in business, health, nonprofits, community, and education. Through thousands of hours of research and interviews with CEOs, billionaires, celebrity entrepreneurs, and Grammy-award-winning musicians, he shares the eight core obsessions of everyday innovators:
1. Fall in love with the problem
Rather than prematurely landing on a specific solution, this involves taking the time to carefully examine and understand the challenge at hand. It means being more committed to solving the problem than to a particular manner of solving it and remaining flexible and open-minded in order to find the optimal approach.
2. Start before you're ready
Everyday innovators take the initiative to get started now instead of waiting for permission, detailed instructions, or ideal conditions. They are willing to course-correct along the way, adapt to changing circumstances in real time, and operate with agility.
3. Open a test kitchen
Innovation is both strengthened and de-risked through experimentation. By building a framework and conditions for testing and creative exploration, ideas are cultivated and optimized.
4. Break it to fix it
Ditching the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" advice of the past, everyday innovators proactively deconstruct, examine, and rebuild to deliver superior products, systems, processes, and works of art.
5. Reach for weird
Preferring the unexpected approaches to the obvious ones, everyday innovators challenge conventional wisdom by searching for unorthodox ideas. They have a penchant for discovering oddball, sometimes even bizarre, ideas in order to discover better outcomes.
6. Use every drop of toothpaste
Consider this a scrappy approach to doing more with less. Counterintuitively, being resource constrained can fuel creative breakthroughs. Resourcefulness and ingenuity become powerful weapons in the fight for superior innovation.
7. Don't forget the dinner mint
Adding small, creative flourishes can yield significantly improved results. An extra dose of surprise and delight enables new invention, competitive victory, and individual achievement.
8. Fall seven times, stand up eight
Realizing that setbacks are inevitable, everyday innovators use creative resilience to overcome adversity. Mistakes are a natural and important part of the innovation process and can be flipped into advantages when studied and embraced.
Big Little Breakthroughs replaces the myth that innovation is only for senior-level R&D and marketing, delivering a healthy dose of creativity to every functional area, pesky problem, and box-on-the-org-chart. When organizations unleash the full creative power of every team member, they become unshackled and unstoppable.