Originality is overrated.
It’s common to think that in order to be cutting-edge, to be at the top of your game and foremost in your field, you need to be original. But in reality, this just isn’t true. You can have something completely original and it is just as completely useless. Furthermore, it’s extremely rare to come up with something truly ‘original’. Much of what we do and believe is due to the culture we have grown up in, and we can never completely remove ourselves from our experiences.
So what now? Innovate.
Most often, the best things happen when you innovate, taking the old and updating it. (Fun fact: the word comes from Mid 16th century Latin innovat– renewed, altered, from the verb innovare, from in- into + novare make new). Innovation is the way forward. Yet our has culture created this pressure for us to be original, particularly in the creative field.
But all this is changing. More and more brands and organisations are realising that innovation is what drives transformation. True innovation is not something that materialises out of thin air, it’s the process of combining knowledge and experiences and capitalising on it to make something new. The same goes for creativity. At its core, creativity is nothing more than the connection of ideas that might not instinctively be joined together. Thus, it leads to the conclusion that the broader your knowledge base, the more ideas and experiences you have to draw from, and the more creative you can be. This is why collaboration is so valuable, because you are multiplying the number of experiences and ideas, fostering creativity and innovation.
So take a bit of pressure off yourself to come up with the next original idea, and consider your strengths and weaknesses. Where do you find inspiration? What areas or fields do you want to grow in? Does your team have trouble brainstorming because they all tend to have the same strengths and interests? How can you diversify?
In Part Two we will look at practical ways to foster innovation in the workplace.