A.E’s Forgotten Law of Innovation

Einstein Diary

The diary page was dated 14 June 1933. The blue ink handwriting, although quite faded, was still legible and was written in the old Germanic letter style of my grandfather.

Later in life, he did indeed become quite famous, in part due to his outlandish and peculiar hairstyle, but it was curious how this small piece of creative research never obtained the public notoriety, like all his other hypotheses?

As I rummaged respectfully through the following well read diary pages, it became apparent that quite a few foreign governments were also interested in this unknown research that suggested a somewhat fool proof theoretical methodology on the Law of Innovation. As he was Jewish, I wasn’t surprised that he elected to leave Germany and continue his innovation work at Princeton University in the USA.

But why was his theory on the Law of Innovation never published? I chuckled after reading a few more paragraphs as the references to the CIA may have had something to do with it?

But there it was; one paragraph was underlined repeatedly. In the page margin were his initials (A.E.) that he only used when he had exhaustedly confirmed that a Law had been proven.

As I had the esteemed position of Professor of Thought Creation at a reputable and well-known British University, I read the paragraphs on the Law of Innovation with interest.

Quote: “The Law of Innovation: Innovative thoughts are created when the thinker deliberately places their mind simultaneously in a multitude of time periods whilst still being in the present”.  

I had to read this paragraph twice and then I finally understood the concept. When solving a problem, the thinker needs to look at the issue from a range of different time perspectives, some of which may be unknown to you. The concept of time forces the individual to indeed think differently. For instance, if the year was 1930, how would the problem be solved using the resources of that time period? If the year were now 2100, a different set of solutions would prevail. Now bring the future and past time-dated solutions back to the present and look for any common themes and similarities. As you think with an open mind, an unexpected innovative thought will eventuate.

So for those readers of this blog post that work in the corporate office, may I suggest that you invoke the Law of Innovation and I’m sure that with time a creative solution will be revealed.

Let the Ideas In

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Many corporate offices these days are starting to have a somewhat cloned appearance of the CIA, MI6, ASIO, and most other intelligence organizations, with all the security gadgets located throughout their buildings. This is evident by the increasing visibility of security cameras, sensor movement measuring devices, electronic swipe cards and other items that may have been derived from a James Bond 007 movie!

These security measures are very successful at keeping unwanted people out, and those valued people in, together with protecting the businesses intellectual property and other strategic assets. This security focus also permeates into the organization’s hierarchy and culture where only a limited number of vetted employees are allowed to represent the business in the external world to ensure consistency of message.

A major consequence of these established corporate fortresses is that many new ideas, creativity and innovations are also blocked from entering the organization. Many companies utilise a limited number of gatekeepers to filter and disseminate information inputs into the organization thereby ensuring a consistent methodology to evaluate potential opportunities in accordance with well established, and approved, corporate guidelines. However, this can result in stifling innovation and in restricting the highly needed creative thought that is essential to the longer-term and ongoing success of the organization.

The solution is for organizations to have a broad network of “idea collection systems” in place to seek out, identify and gather new thoughts that can analysed further to better understand current and future consumer trends and market requirements. The key is to allow many employees in the corporate structure, not just the chosen few, to have the opportunity to source these ideas without the use of the approved corporate filtering and distillation processes, otherwise this will again lead to a narrow view of potential innovation opportunities.

These “idea collection systems” do not need to be extremely ornate, sophisticated or expensive, but can be achieved via allowing people from a broad cross-section of the organization access to a variety of external information stimuli that they would not normally have exposure to via their traditional job roles. Examples of these “idea collection systems” could be; magazine subscriptions (HBR, The New Yorker, Food and Wine, MAD Magazine, Top Gear, etc), attending seminars, webinars, workshops, interest groups, factory tours, plays, book reviews, plus many more! The objective is creative diversity with ideas sourced from outside their current “thought zone”.

The vast array of collected ideas should then be pooled into a continually overflowing “idea bucket” from which those versed in the identification of potentially new ideas and products review on a regular basis. With time, I’m sure that this collective of numerous ideas will lead to many commercially new and innovative products being developed to provide future long-term benefit and financial sustenance to the corporate organization.

The corporate goal should be to have many employee “ears and eyes” constantly seeking new thoughts to add to the “idea collection systems”. But to do this, the corporate organization needs to be bold, to listen, and to “Let the Ideas In”!