You are viewing an archive of our posts and leadership content. We have evolved. Click here for the New Leadership Hub.

How to Innovate

by The Architect July 13, 2007

You want customers to find you memorable, right? Then you need to lead in a way that frees your people up to use their imagination and innovate. There are hundreds of guitarists who have posted videos of themselves on YouTube. This guy is the only one who has had over one million views. Look closely and you'll see why.

Thousands of people the world over can play guitar as well as the Teaspoon Slide Guitar man. He's good, but not THAT good. But, nobody had the imagination before he did, to think "Why only play guitar with two hands? How do you overcome the problem that when you play slide guitar you lose the use of your fingers on the left hand?" (OK, I know: Jimi Hendrix played it with his teeth, but you know what I'm saying, right.)


Innovation can be low-cost and high impact. Virgin Atlantic introduced ice creams on their flights to eat while the in-flight movie is on, to enhance the entertainment experience. People now choose Virgin over other airlines precisely because of small, low-cost surprises like this. How much is an ice cream compared with the cost of a 747? So, got any old teaspoons lying around? (It's a metaphor! What's your equivalent of a teaspoon or an ice-cream is what we're saying here! Get with the programme...)

You need as a leader to get people used to trusting their imagination, to practise coming up with alternative, possibly better ways of doing what you do and not be afraid of ridicule when suggesting them. Imagination, as Einstein said, is more powerful than knowledge.