Want more Innovation? Here is a Novel Idea!

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In a host of conversations over the past few years, many people have shared with me a common challenge:  ‘How to consistently generate more innovation in my business and in my life?’   It can be a vexing problem…but it doesn’t have to be.  Three key points to jump spark the conversation:

  • The driving force behind all innovation is creativity.
  • Behind creativity are proactive habits.
  • If you want more innovation, anchor the creative habit.

To quote one of my clients: ‘Spending hours in the day for creative thinking feels like a shrinking ice cube – simply not enough time.’   Ah yes, the cruel creativity ResistorThe Vice strikes once again – simply not enough hours in the day.  If you take that at face value and add to it that most people don’t have effective and easy go to mechanisms to prime their creative idea pump, we have  identified two root causes that slow down the challenge of consistently generating enough innovation.  And you say you have a novel idea to help solve this?

The novel idea at a glanceDevelop and implement a simple integrated workout routine to leverage the positive benefits of physical exercise (when the endorphins are elevated, you are primed and ready) and use it to fuel your creative thinking efforts.  Yes, combine the creative and physical exercise habit together.

Physical exercise is good for the body it builds muscle and conditions the heart and the lungs.  It also builds, conditions and influences the brain.  The brain is an adaptable organ than can be shaped similarly to the way muscles can be strengthened.  The more we exercise the stronger and more versatile the brain becomes.  Exercise improves our ability to learn on three fundamental levels:

  • It sharpens our mindset to improve alertness, attention and motivation.
  • It readies and primes nerve cells to communicate and bind to one another at a cellular level, which helps us to take in new information.
  • It sparks the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus region of the brain (responsible for collecting incoming stimuli, cross referencing the new information with stored information and forwards it to the prefrontal cortex for processing).

Similarly, thinking creatively is good for the mind, spirit, heart and gut.  You produce more novel and feasible ideas and actions when you proactively think and act creatively.  And like exercise, you can’t simply talk about it, you have to consistently do it to get results.  And one proactive way to accomplish this is to apply a go to set of divergent and convergent thinking tools…and combine them with physical exercise.  Here’s how:

  • Precede the physical exercise workout with a stretching/warm-up routine to focus on the creative thinking challenge.  Spend seven minutes and zero in on the specific area where you want novel, valuable and feasible thinking.
  • Engage in a minimum thirty-minute physical exercise workout to get your heart rate elevated.  During the workout reach into your idea generating toolkit/pump and apply a divergent and/or convergent thinking tool to spark and/or focus your thinking.
  • After the workout, immediately capture what you generated – (e.g., problem statements,  ideas, concepts, actions to take etc.) via your idea capture system (e.g., post it notes, iPhone, notepad, etc.).
  • Take some bold action on what you produced within 24 hours – accelerate your momentum!

Good things happen when you hustle…and when you combine physical exercise and creative thinking.  In using this method over a 28-day timeframe, you will anchor the physical exercise and creative habit and consistently drive more innovation.  Borrowing from horse racing, just picked three winners in the trifecta – and yes, I expect the payout to be quite handsome!


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