Search Less for Innovation

Search Less for InnovationIn search of new ideas: he who searches less, will find more!

We all search for new ideas, but we all know that real good ideas are really difficult to find. To find new ideas, many times we look at what competitors do well, try to benchmark their best practices, we search in patent data bases, we realize brainstorm sessions, etc. We always try to find some radical, great new idea as fast as we can.

We forget sometimes that a large part of great new ideas happen in this world by coincidence or by stumbling upon them. Sure, innovation happens through clearly directed researches, but much of what was invented, happened because of experiments, or because concepts were obtained from other people or other industries. We see something happening outside our work, read an interesting article, we hear a speech, etc. And we adapt that idea or information to the reality in our own organization.

And that´s the way innovation happens. Many ideas are not found through “advanced search”, but yes through the “will to find”. Hereby, some attitudes that you can incorporate to simplify the way to find some good ideas:

Be curious and really interested: Really try to understand how things happen (products, services, but also other organizations, cultures, religions, machines). You will have some very interesting insights;

Do things you have never done before: get to know areas in your professional or personal life with which you have not had any contact. When was the last time you did something for the first time?;

Get to know people: from your area, but especially other areas of knowledge and skills. They will have different views than you do and thereby will stretch and chance your way of seeing things;

Encounter ideas by accident: Go into a library and read a book, a magazine that has little to do with your area of expertise. Or navigate freely on the internet, use some key words of areas you would like to know something about. Stumble upon something!

Opening your mind, getting to know new people and areas outside your daily life and reading will get you many, many new and good ideas. Get away from that desk and go out in the world! That´s where the ideas are. Search less and find more.

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Caspar van RijnbachCaspar van Rijnbach is a specialist in innovation management and partner at TerraForum Consulting in Brazil – and Co-author of “Innovation: Breaking Paradigms” and “Management 2.0’’ (in Portuguese).

Caspar van Rijnbach




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No Comments

  1. Jose Palomino on June 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    This is a great way of looking at idea generation, Caspar! Instead of focusing so much on the act of brainstorming, it really would be much more helpful (and a greater use of time) to immerse oneself in new and inspiring things. For the long term, this method would allow us to gain more experience, all while spending less time and encountering less stress in forcing out ideas from behind our office desks.

    Opening up ourselves to new people, viewpoints, and adventures is definitely a better way of reaching out to innovation. It’s easier, much more efficient, and fun. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but there’s also always a better and smarter way of dealing with things. At the end of the day, it’s he who works wise who gets the best deal out of things.

  2. Elizabeth Usovicz, Principal on June 9, 2010 at 8:08 am


    Caspar, I enjoyed your post and share your perception that open awareness is often a more valuable element of the innovation process than the intentional search for new ideas.

    One of my favorite “non-search” activities is something I started doing years ago during flight layovers in airports. I visit an airport newsstand and buy a magazine that I’d normally be least likely to read. The fresh content, perspectives and associations always trigger ideas and new perceptions for me.

    “Look where it is not,” says the proverb, “as well as where it is.” So true for new ideas. Thanks very much for your insights.

  3. Ramesh on June 9, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I agree with all four points because I have experienced so!
    Another way of getting ideas is to know more languages. Even the language of a brush used for painting. Great post

  4. Marcos Boro on June 11, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Very good points, Caspar.
    To be more creative we must develop our “soft skills”.

  5. Caetano Mauro Tavares on June 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I will use this post like a context for my students. They will have explain how much difficult the work with the “blue ocean strategy” is, when the organization need a search for Innovation. Thanks again, Caspar.

  6. Ellen Bouter on June 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Caspar,

    I think you get the right point about inspiring and getting new ideas.
    Me as an artist, I have always the best innovating ideas by…
    doing nothing. Just hanging around, talking with people I never met before or when I close my eyes and imagine. I think that is the best way to get the best ideas.
    Follow your instinct and miracles will happen!

  7. H. van Rijnbach on June 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Today I had a party from the local business club (the socalled first herring-party: typical Dutch). Especially the third suggestion to get to know people is important for innovation. I spoke with members of Food Valley Veenendaal (see the idea was to mix with other industries in the region and get new innovation ideas. With different kwowledge and skills the food-industry can learn a lot and make new concepts. First conference in august. And Caspar, the herring was this year delecious!

  8. Pauline on June 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I totaly agree. When you searce for ideas, most of the time you will end up copying ideas of other people. By widening your world you will get better and newer insights.

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