At the center of every significant innovation is always an idea. Clarence Birdseye’s idea about freezing fish revolutionized the food industry. Charles Schwab’s idea about flat commissions changed investing forever. Steve Jobs’ idea to create a device that would put an entire music library in your pocket changed Apple’s fortunes.
Yet we shouldn’t confuse a great idea with where it came from. Truly useful ideas don’t arise out of the ether or through fancy techniques like brainstorming or divergent thinking. In researching his book, Mapping Innovation, author Greg Satell found that the most innovative firms aren't necessarily any more creative or better at solving problems than most. Rather, what set them apart was how aggressively they sought out new problems to solve. The truth is that if you want to create a truly innovative culture, it isn't ideas you should glorify, but problems.