In this TED talk, Joi Ito, head of the MIT Media Lab, shares how he used personal experiences to create one of the most successful citizen science projects in the world.

At HP, we’re constantly building and reinventing things. Staying in the moment or being a “now-ist”, as Ito calls it, is crucial when it comes to innovation. Here are my four tips for staying in the moment:

  1. Think big, but start small. While it’s important to keep your long-term goal in mind, it’s equally important to start small. Break your idea into smaller pieces for testing and defer any major decisions until you have meaningful data. New business creation is by its nature highly uncertain, so incubating a new business is all about risk mitigation of testing hypotheses in the market against key success milestones before betting big.
  2. Strive for innovation, not perfection. Failure is a necessary part of the innovation process. The lessons learned from iterations and adaptions are invaluable. And when you know it’s okay to fail, you’re free to take chances.
  3. Let your mind wander. It’s been proven a wandering mind can be a source of creative inspiration. Spending time in the clouds allows for connections to arise that might not be made otherwise.If you’re having trouble letting your mind wander, start by answering these questions:
    • What’s one invention you always wanted to create?
    • What would a dream testimonial from a customer be?
    • What would I create if judgment were suspended?
  4. Keep your door open. As Richard Hamming said, “If you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But ten years later somehow, you don’t quite know what problems are worth working on.”

It’s important to stay open to ideas because if you work alone, you can only go so far. Everyone in an organization should feel empowered to unleash his or her innovative spirit.

What are your tips for staying in the moment?

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