How to Spark an Innovation Mindset

Technology is changing at lightning speed. When I was in college, a single computer took up an entire room.  Yes, am dating myself a little here…. Now, we hold computing devices in the palms of our hands. In fact, we have more computing power in our pockets than all of NASA had when they put the first man on the moon in 1969.

We now live in a world increasingly surrounded by self-driving cars that may someday be self-flying cars, of pervasive artificial intelligence, and where India can put a spacecraft around Mars for less than what Hollywood spent making the movie Gravity.

Innovation is significantly shaping our world. And it’s the number #1 topic I’m most frequently asked about. Whether it’s at the HP offices, at speaking engagements, or when I attend conferences, people want to know how they can tap into their own inner innovator, and spark innovation at their offices. I wanted to share a few of those questions and the answers I give in hopes of sparking more innovation at your office.

Why is innovation important to a company and employees’ personal development?
Innovation is about adapting to change.  It’s the difference between leading change and being led by it, so it is critical for any company that wants to do the disrupting and not be the disrupted.

Adapting is the difference between leading change and being led by it.

Innovation is equally important for personal development. Innovation at a company doesn’t happen magically; a company can only be truly innovative if they have employees who are innovative. Adopting an innovative mindset also makes life a lot more interesting and fun when you think of every problem that comes at you as an opportunity to learn and grow.

What makes someone an innovator?
Innovation is an attitude. As an innovator you need to believe you can change the world, that if you keep working on a problem you will eventually find a solution, and that anything is possible.  Innovators have a passion to make things happen. They relentlessly take action.

How can I inspire my team to take action?
I tell my team: be curious. Observe, ask questions, have an open mind, and suspend judgement. Be bold. Be passionate about what you’re doing. Most importantly, have fun. I often say that boredom is not a corporate objective, and when you enjoy what you do, you will be better at it.

What are the most common misconceptions when it comes to innovation?
I’ve come across several misconceptions. The first is that it requires a large team and a lot of resources to change the world. While endless resources and a large team can make parts of innovation easier, it doesn’t take an army to do big things. Disruption can occur with small, special forces with drive and dedication. The willingness of smaller teams to be agile and adaptable can lead to success.

Another misconception is when you are starting something new, you need to know what you’re doing ahead of time. In reality, you just need to have the right mindset, and you’ll find your way. Trust in yourself, and learn along the way. Don’t get stuck at the starting line because things will inevitably change anyway. It’s better to get started, enjoy the journey and adapt to the changing world around you.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

How do you deal with failure?
You shouldn’t just prepare for failure, you should welcome it and actively seek it out because failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. I truly believe you can’t have success without failure. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Sometimes it takes “failing” 10,000 times to find the right path forward. When you start something new, think of all the reasons that something won’t work. Then, order them by the highest risk of failure, and go about testing the riskiest assumptions first. If things aren’t meant to be, aim to fail fast.

How can employees practice an innovation mindset?
Start with small things. Have lunch every week with someone outside of your team. Talk to them about what they do and how they do it. Innovation is about leveraging diversity, and the more you know about more things, the better you will be able to innovate.

Write down your ideas. Sometimes the simple act of writing things down can bring your ideas to life. You never know when that list will come in handy.

Be mindful of the language you use. The words we use influence our thoughts and mindset. Get in the habit of reinforcing an innovative mindset through the words you use or the way you respond to questions. Instead of “why?”, ask “why not?” Instead of saying “no, but…”, say “yes, if…”.

Once you become comfortable with those, move on to larger mindset shifts.

Question your assumptions about everything. Many times, the “right” way to do things can be altered and improved, it just takes someone to question the underlying assumptions. Ask yourself, how can this be improved? How can we make it better?

Be persistent. Don’t give up when things get tough. Instead, keep your eye on the prize and work your way toward it one step at a time. Test, learn, iterate, move forward, rinse, and repeat. Through that process, make it a personal goal to learn one new thing every day.

Don’t play the blame game. If something goes wrong, look for solutions and learn from everyone’s mistakes. The past is already behind you, so you might as well leave it there. Simply stay in the “here and now” and do whatever you can to create the future you’re aiming for.

Help others build on their ideas. It’s not your job to tell others why their ideas are bad or won’t work. Help them grow their ideas and make them work as if they were your own.

The future hasn’t happened yet, you get to create it.

Lastly and most importantly, believe in yourself and what you’re doing. As a child, we all believe we could do anything or be anything. Sometimes as adults, we forget that. We listen to people tell us why we can’t do something or why something isn’t a good idea. Don’t listen to them. Recapture that child-like belief in yourself. The future hasn’t happened yet, you get to create it.

What are your tips for sparking an innovation mindset? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

Blog Innovation Trends

Is your business Megatrends ready?

Over the next 15 years, we will experience more change than in all human history to date. The pace and magnitude at which change is occurring is staggering.

Did you know we now have more computing power in our pocket than all of NASA had in 1969 when they put the first man on the moon?

Or how about the fact that artificial intelligence spent 42 hours solving the 100-year-old mystery of how flatworms regenerate body parts?

With the accelerated pace of change comes the equally accelerated rate of innovation. I believe this accelerated innovation and the Megatrends driving it will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead — on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives.

So how do we as engineers, marketers, designers, innovators, and executives stay ahead of that change and help chart our own course?

Ask yourself: Is your business Megatrends ready? Answer these five questions to find out.


1.
What products could you develop to support megacity infrastructure, an aging population, or hyper global trade?

By 2030, there will be 8.5 billion people walking the earth, and 97% of that population growth will be in emerging economies. And as people move to cities, our cities will get larger, and we’ll have more of them, including megacities in places many of us have never heard of today.

It will change how we buy and consume products and services, propelling the sharing economy and convenience-based services. Businesses must design products that meet the needs of the megacity infrastructure, an aging population or hyper global trade.

Blog Innovation Trends

Changing Demographics: Q&A with HP Labs

I recently sat down with HP Labs for Part 3 of a five-part series discussing HP’s future technology vision, and how key global forces known as Megatrends are being used to shape that vision and our future. Megatrends are global socio-economic, demographic and technological forces that will have a sustained and transformative impact on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives in unimaginable ways in the years to come.

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One of the trends that will dramatically shift the tapestry of our society is Changing Demographics. I sat down with HP Labs to discuss this trend and how it will impact our future. Here’s a preview of our conversation:

How would you describe Changing Demographics?

On one hand, we have a new generation that is beginning to enter the workforce. Numbering 2.6bn globally, Generation Z (Gen Z) is about a quarter of the US population and will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.  By 2020, Gen Z will make up 36% of the GLOBAL workforce. [Source: US Consensus Bureau]

This generation has never known a world without the Internet and generation was raised on using five screens, a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and TV, to communicate and digest information instantaneously, but are equally easily distracted. Having never spent a day of their lives offline, they are acutely aware of the issues and global challenges happening in the world around them.  As a result, they are 54% more likely to say they want to have an impact on the world as compared to millennials. [Source: Sparks & Honey, Millennial Branding, Salt]

Yet at the same time more countries are becoming super-aged, which means more than 20 percent of their population is over the age of 65. By 2030, we’ll have twice as many people over age 65—nearly one billion.

In fact, per the World Bank Databank, by 2060 we’ll have 3B more people over the age of 30 than we do today. And as more countries are becoming super-aged with more than 20% of their population over the age of 65, we will experience a shrinking and aging workforce. China is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Today 26% of their population is over the age of 55. And according to UN Population data, that number will grow to 43% by 2030. To deal with this shift, China recently rescinded their one child policy after 35 years.

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To read the entire interview, head over to HP Labs’ blog and let me know your thoughts on Megatrends and their impact on our future in the comments section below.

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Megatrends: Rapid Urbanization

I recently sat down with HP Labs for Part 2 of a five-part series discussing HP’s future technology vision, and how key global forces known as Megatrends are being used to shape that vision and our future. Megatrends are global socio-economic, demographic and technological forces that will have a sustained and transformative impact on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives in unimaginable ways in the years to come.

Blog Innovation Trends Videos

Megatrends: HP’s future technology vision

I recently sat down with HP Labs for Part 1 of a five-part series to discuss HP’s future technology vision, and how key global forces known as Megatrends are being used to shape that vision and our future.

Here’s a preview of our conversation.

Can you explain to us what you mean by Megatrends?

Megatrends are global socio-economic, demographic and technological forces that HP believes will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead – on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives.

The world is in a constant state of change. In the next 15 years there will be more change than in all of human history to date.  And while we can never really know the future, understanding the Megatrends that are shaping the world around us can help point the way, and guide us on where the world is going, and the technology that will be needed into the future to help improve our lives.

At HP, we’ve identified four major Megatrends that we think are important: Rapid Urbanization, Changing Demographics, Hyper Globalization, and Accelerated Innovation.

Mass Urbanization | AndrewBolwell.com

Let’s start with Rapid Urbanization: by 2030 there will be 8.5 billion people walking the earth. They will be drawn to cities in massive numbers for the promise of a better life.  Cities will become larger creating megacities. With bigger cities come major economic growth, particularly in emerging markets.  According to McKinsey by 2025, urbanization will welcome an additional 1.8B consumers to the world economy, 95% of them in emerging markets. It will also change how we buy and consume products and services, propelling the sharing economy and convenience-based services.  But such rapid urbanization will also take a toll on the environment, requiring us to find ways to reduce the strain on our natural resources and infrastructure.

To read the article in it’s entirety and the role I envision HP playing, please visit HP Labs’ blog.

Blog Innovation Trends

Innovation: Staying in the Moment

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:

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