Innovation seems to be a popular word in the business community these days.
Often, we look for innovation on large scales. The Kindle. The iPhone. The Prius.
Innovation, however, starts with following our own creative impulses in small doses first. The trick is not to wonder whether we have the impulses or not. Because we all do. The trick is to trust them and act on them.
Leaving the subway one evening in Manhattan, I noticed that behind the thick bulletproof dingy glass of the subway station’s office, sprouted a colorful, tiny, world of delight.
There, displayed in the window of this decrepit underground office, was a collection of tiny colorful creature sculptures, all made – upon closer inspection – of Manhattan Transit Authority fare cards.
The thin blue and gold plastic credit card had been slivered, sliced and folded into a miniature Metrocard version of Disneyland.
Where most MTA underground offices exude grubbiness and dismal gloom, this office — at least a corner of it — sprung forth with LIFE and DELIGHT!
I knocked on the thick tinted glass, then waved. The station operator came out. He was delighted by my delight, and when I asked him if he was the creative force behind these sculptures, he lit up. He was bashful, and he was thrilled.
Look at the joy in those eyes…and that smile about to bust open. Interestingly enough, while he let me take his photo, I promised not to post his name or station number, because as he told me, he might get in trouble with the MTA.
You shake your head. “Oh, those terrible MTA people! They’re so restrictive!”
But let me ask you this. If you run a company, manage a department (or even just one person), if you parent a child or manage your own mind, you must turn the mirror on yourself: Whose innovation and creative impulses are you squashing?
And if today, or tomorrow, or next week you have the seedling of a creative idea, take two minutes to plant it.