What makes some innovators more successful ideators than others? It may be the ability to project yourself to a different place in your imagination.
A recent article pointed out why this kind of projection is important in successful creativity and innovation. If you want to understand relativity, you should be able to imagine how two boys throwing a ball on a moving train would look from two different vantage points. If you want to invent a better bird feeder, you should be able to imagine yourself as a bird looking for food.
In world-class innovation, we apply design thinking, which is driven by empathy and creativity. Empathy is a habit of the heart. It involves sharing the feelings of others. Creativity often requires sharing the thoughts of others.
Success in innovation requires both empathy and creativity, as well as one additional input. That is insight. An empathetic person without insight won’t know which feelings to address. A creative person without insight won’t know what sort of solution to imagine. Insights come almost always from observation.
As you assemble your innovation team, look for people who have the ability to project their minds externally, and to imagine fresh points of view. Then, send them out to observe customers and users. This combination of insight-driven imagination produces breakthrough innovations.
For more on the subject of projecting the mind externally, click here.