The freezer or the morgue: a quick primer on innovation

As part of on-boarding for a new project I was asked to put together a quick 10 minute introductory talk on a business-related topic of my choice.

I chose innovation. It’s no doubt a buzzword right now but do we really understand what innovation means and how, when, and why we should apply it? Like a lot of concepts it can be over-complicated and mystified, often by people who want to look smarter than everyone else (and get you to pay them accordingly to explain).

After I took the group through what I’d prepared (slides included below), there was a brief Q&A. Questions ranged from how corporates could innovate when the pervading culture goes the opposite way, to how ideas can be tested quickly and easily.

The one question that jumped out was around knowing when to kill ideas.

Killing your darlings is hard to do. Startup and innovation culture tends to lean towards killing ideas quickly. I believe it’s often important to do so, but my thinking has now moved towards the freezer rather than the morgue.

Putting our ideas in the freezer (perhaps a cryogenic freezer of sorts) means they’re still alive and visible rather than being buried or cremated.

We can choose to bring them back later in their current state, or use parts of them to enhance our future endeavours.

Perhaps having them around also just lets us remember their best features and also their failings – both good fuel as we explore the adjacent possible.

On a number of occasions I’ve thought about parts of old ideas I wanted to reference or repurpose and kicked myself that I’d buried them – they’d decomposed or just completely turned to dust.

So rather than kill your darlings, place them in the freezer – you never know where you may need them next.

 

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