Innovation and Creativity Sources

At Return on Intelligence help our clients assess readiness, plans and tactics to enhance their creativity and innovation. Often, this work is made compelling and interesting through the insights and examples of innovative thought and innovation constructs and theories that are published or available via video.  If you’re interested in exploring the subject of innovation, below are some places to start.  If you have more or others, please share them.

For readers, I recommend Steven Johnson’s compendium, The Innovator’s Cookbook.  It is “an anthology of classic essays on innovation” with “important essays by some of [Johnson’s] heroes — Stewart Brand, John Seely Brown, Erik Von Hippel.” The first selection is Peter Drucker’s classic article, “The Discipline of Innovation.”  It is in this article that most modern constructs about innovation are laid down. Another of my favorites is, “How to Kill Creativity” by Teresa Amabile. It is, of course, a primer on the opposite topic.


TedTalks on YouTube offers a number of useful and insightful video lectures. Some of my favorites are:

  • Charles Leadbeater’s talk “On Innovation” about collaborative creativity.
  • Steven Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From” is about how “the long slow hunch” is required for the eventual ‘Eureka!’ moment.
  • No student of innovation can be complete without watching Matt Ridley’s “When Ideas Have Sex” which explores the astounding power of compounded innovation.

Not at TedTalks Steven Johnson has a short YouTube video on Essentials for Inventing What’s Next.  It talks about the importance of getting out of your normal environment, your cognitive rut, in order to find new insights. For a longer examination of these ideas, read Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine: How Creativity Works” accompanied by a short animation.

Blogs as Sources:

Along the lines of Johnson and Lehrer, Skott Berkun wrote a nice piece called, “Why you get ideas in the shower” about ideas and when they appear. There is a lot of talk or presumption that innovation is a transformational activity.  And, sometimes it is, but we believe that only those that can innovate on a day-to-day basis can see, much less execute on, longer-term or transformational opportunities.  Here’s a blog post by Jeffrey Phillips on “incremental innovation” and some commentary from me.  We made a very simple video that builds off these and other AKA ideas derived from our client work.

Culture and Human Issues

If you’re interested in culture, human issues and Innovation you might start with a blog series from the Harvard Business Review. This link is to an HBR article, which is chock full of incredible resources…the blog comments themselves are a rich vein by some real thought leaders.

A friend, who happens to share my name, has written a number of articles addressing the interconnection between happiness/well-being and business success:

In summary, the other Doug Brockway says that stressed, overly pressured people are not performing at their best.  ‘Couldn’t have said it better myself….

Sample McKinsey Articles –

McKinsey writes extensively on innovation and creativity.  A sampling of their articles is referenced below.  In order to get a sampling suited to your case in your market, it is best to go to their web site and search around for items such as:

“Lessons Learned in Innovation” by Mervyn’s PSI

“McKinsey Innovation Metrics Survey”

“Leadership and Innovation” – McKinsey Quarterly 2008

“Succeeding at Open-source Innovation”

Good Old Search

Lastly, a basic way to find out more is a good-old web search.  For matters like this, I tend to start with Wikipedia.  Articles there may be written by consultants or vendors, but still, definitional articles such as those that define innovation tend to be academically neutral.  If you take the names of the authors and speakers above, or the subjects or titles or their works, it is easy to find articles about them and their subjects, laudatory or critical, usually, to some degree, informative.

If you have other favorites, please share them.  We are always interested in furthering valuable commentary.

Doug Brockway

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