I would imagine that is was probably a little while ago. We’re part of an always-on culture; a culture where we’re so busy doing our day-to-day that we fail to take time to think, read, converse, explore.
But innovation, in our opinion, can only happen when we intersect thinking, ideas and challenges. Therefore, creating time for stimulus – fresh insight, new views, open eyes – is a vital part of being innovative.
Time to Think
Warren Buffet, business magnate, claims his success is down to spending 80% of his career thinking and drawing inspiration from others. This may seem mad when you hear stories of other highly successful leaders devoting 100s of hours per work to ‘working’, yet clearly Buffet’s approach has proven successful. In an article for Inc.com, it quotes Charlie Munger, Buffet’s right-hand man, as once saying:
“That’s what created [one of the] world’s most successful business records in history. He has a lot of time to think.”
And he’s not alone in this. At AOL, executives are made to spend 10% of their time each week thinking. Bill Gates is famous for his twice a year, week of time out so he can think deeply. Michelle Obama was the driving force behind her husband taking time out to sit, read and think, after voicing her concern that he wasn’t doing enough of it.
The Right Stimulus
Finding and learning from the right stimulus is powerful for business. And we’re not just talking about your immediate environment – your competitors, similar businesses in similar industries – here. Having the same ideas as those around you will not drive a culture of innovation, nor will it help you to stand out from the crowd.
We’re talking about stepping inside the “parallel universe”; completely outside your normal landscape and opening your creative receptors within a vastly different sector and / or organisation.
After all, somewhere else in the world, your business challenge has already been solved.
Using Stimulus in the Right Way
But seeking out stimulus isn’t about copying. Of course, you can steal somethings with glee – why reinvent the wheel after all – though to use stimulus in a strategic way you must get to the heart of the example, what was trying to be achieved and then what you can learn from that. Once you understand the principle behind the success, or even failure, then you can apply that back to your own challenge in context of your culture, values, brand and customers.
So, carve out time in your diary, and encourage your people to do the same. Get over those fears of employees ‘wasting time’ and embrace the benefits which comes with empowering thinking.
If you are looking for fresh stimulus to get your creative thinking going, sign up to The Innovation Buzz, our newsletter packed full of the latest thinking on innovation and creativity.