If there’s an algorithm for Innovation, it must begin with two key components, Curiosity & Creativity.
These two words lie at the very foundation of every true innovative process. If great minds like Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci have anything in common, it would be these two qualities: Curiosity and Creativity. But let’s back it up and try to define these three words: Creativity, Curiosity, and Innovation algorithm.
Creativity is the innate ability to use one’s imagination to bring an original idea to life. It can also be the use of original ideas to invent something; it can indicate a flash of insight otherwise known as the “Eureka” or “Light Bulb” moment. A good example of Creativity is Sir Issac Newton’s flash of genius as an apple fell while he under the apple tree. This event sparked a moment of creative brilliance that inspired Newton to develop the theories of Gravitation. Creativity would ensure that one can connect with the original ideas and convert them into material that can energize innovation.
On the other hand, how can Curiosity be defined?
Curiosity is a passionate desire to discover and to know. Curiosity is a subtle quality of great that mostly goes unnoticed. It doesn’t seem to garner as much acclaim as it deserves which is also makes it difficult for those who embrace Creativity without it to produce anything meaningful that truly impacts and changes the world. Curiosity has proven to be a precursor to Creativity time and again. One very notable example of Curiosity is the Ford Model T designed and developed by American inventor Henry Ford.
Ford is known to have made a quote which goes thus: “If I had asked them what they wanted; they would have said faster horses”. Henry Ford was curious about what other forms of transportation existed beyond the horses and the carts. This pushed him into a creative zone that was hitherto unexplored simply because of sheer curiosity. This curiosity made him into one of the greatest inventors America has ever had. His curiosity made the Ford Model T to be named in 1999 as the most influential car of the 20th century at the Car of the Century competition. By now, it is must be clearer how critical the qualities of creativity and curiosity are to the Innovation algorithm. So, what’s the Innovation algorithm?
It is a set of creative processes that work together to convert a problem into a solution. In 1485, Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci conceived and mapped out plans and designs for a ornithopter (a device intended to fly through aid of human power). Leonardo saw a transportation problem that carts and horses could not solve and he got curious. He was known to be obsessed with flight so much so that he would buy birds in the market and set them free. He was always curious about how birds took flight, the position of their heads and wings, the settings of their tail wings, the shape of their bodies while in flight and so forth. This made him think of transportation in ways that were out of the conventional transportation of his day. It was never really known if Leonardo’s ornithopter worked.
Four centuries down the line, transportation by air would become a major issue especially in the military sector. In 1903, two brothers named Wilbur and Orville Wright made four flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And they had successfully invented the first airplane. Was this a coincidence? Absolutely not! There is a link in creative processes. The innovative algorithm that solved the problem of human flight began in the 15th century in Italy in the curious mind of the Italian maestro, Leonardo da Vinci. And this curiosity birthed creative processes in inventors like the Montgolfier brothers -who developed the hot air balloon flight in 1783- and George Cayley in 1843 who published the biplane design until the Wright brothers came along.
It is safe to assert that Curiosity and Creativity exists in a loop or some sort of continuum that keeps the core process of Innovation alive. When there is a problem, curiosity must be engaged. We must ask “Why” like Henry Ford did. “Why” is the article of curiosity. When we ask why, it becomes clear how our imaginations must work to solve the problem at hand. Einstein is noted for saying: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. Until curiosity is engaged and why is known, we cannot change our level of thinking.
Without changing the level of thinking, problems are never solved; they are simply recycled. As we become more curious about the ways to deal with problems, we become more creative in thinking of ways to solve the problem and the result is innovation that blows the world away.
Do you want your Innovation to blow the world away?
Embrace Curiosity and Creativity!