Necessity might be the mother of invention, but our brain is the father of innovation. Through structured thinking, we can turbocharge our ability to innovate.

Barbara Frederickson’s research has shown us that positive emotions enable us to broaden our perspective and see more options to consider.  Alternatively, our brains respond to negative emotions by limiting the options we consider.

For example, if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with a long to-do list, you might find it hard to take just one small action to get started.

So, our positive emotions and mindset create fertile ground in which the seeds of innovation can take root.

Here are a few tips:

Tap into your child-like curiosity.  Ask yourself, “Hmm, I wonder if…”.  Or to learn more and grow, inquire with, “Can you tell me more?”.

Embrace mistakes. Routinely debrief on the lessons learned. Capture insights gained and discuss how you can use the learnings to seize future opportunities. Let your mistakes refine you, not define you.

Think small. We tend to think of innovations as those big ideas that change the world, but the game is won with small, daily innovations.  Look for small improvements on the way to innovation by challenging the 8 areas of waste that spell: TIM WOODS:

Transport – Moving people, products, and information
Inventory – Storing parts, pieces, and documentation ahead of requirements
Motion – Bending, turning, reaching, lifting

Waiting – For parts, information, instructions, equipment
Overproduction – Making more than is immediately required
Over-processing – Tighter tolerances or higher-grade materials than are needed
Defects – Rework, scrap, incorrect/incomplete information
Skill – Underutilized capabilities, delegating tasks with inadequate training