Creativity and Innovation: Jonah Lehrer on “moments of insight”

I greatly admire Jonah Lehrer for his empirical approach to exploring the subjects he write about, and binding copious scientific publications to prove his point. I must admit that I am biased to his writing style since I am a Neuroscience junky myself. I recently read his book Imagine: How Creativity Works, which explores how moments of insights happen, as he calls it “the eureka moments”, and we find solutions to our most daunting problems. This book was a big help to me in launching the Open Innovation Program at my company. Here’s a clip of Jonah Lehrer talking about his book Imagine:

How to start an Innovation Program

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt.

Innovation is on everyone’s mind today. A recent survey conducted by IBM, comprising of more than 1500 CEOs, ranked innovation as the top priority and a requirement for future growth. Organizations are realizing that to survive in today’s market and to attract information rich customers, they must innovate continuously. Companies like Apple and Google have set a new standard for innovation. Their approach to innovation has not only changed the Tech industry, but also the consumer expectation, which is forcing virtually every industry to change. We have also seen many giants like Blockbuster, Borders, United Airlines disappear as they failed to innovate and adapt to changing environment.

My quest started from similar need to determine what customers want and how to grow the company. I am blessed to live in Silicon Valley, and was able to tap into local resources to figure out what made companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook so successful, but my challenge was how do I apply their principles to service industry where there is no physical product that you can hold, touch or see. I am in insurance industry and we sell a promise. How do you innovate a promise?

It’s often the employees—rather than outside consultants—who know a company’s products and processes best. According to management experts, many of the most innovative companies tend to solicit ideas from staff throughout the organization, not just the executive ranks (Wall Street Journal, 2011). Continue reading