The Anatomy of Innovation in 26 Quotes #39 #cong17

By Cronan McNamara

Cronan McNamara The Anatomy of Innovation in 24 Quotes

The word innovation is often used in business these days, but what is it exactly? 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines innovation as: To innovate is to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

It is a pretty simple definition and doesn’t quite hit the mark for innovation in business. defines innovation in business as: Innovation in business is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. 

The key points for me being ‘creates value’ and ‘customers will pay’.

So, the definition of innovation is quite simple, but what it takes to achieve it, is not simple at all. In this article, I use quotes to outline a large number of things I believe are important to deliver successful innovation. 


"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Albert Einstein.


“Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable." Carl Jung


“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside awakes.” Carl Jung


“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” Henry Ford


“It's not the lack of resources that cause failure, it's the lack of resourcefulness that causes failure.” Tony Robbins.

Being Open 

“You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.” Steve Jobs


“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” Elon Musk.


(the mother of invention)

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” Elon Musk

Scientific Method

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." Albert Einstein

Embracing Change

"It's easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date." Roger Von Oech.

Be Lean

“Life's too short to build something nobody wants.”  Ash Maurya

Value Proposition

“Your customers are the judge, jury, and executioner of your value proposition. They will be merciless if you don’t find fit!” Alexander Osterwalder


“If you want to do something different, you're going to come up against a lot of naysayers.” James Dyson


“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart”. Eleanor Roosevelt


“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan


"The only real valuable thing is intuition." Albert Einstein


“We all operate in two contrasting thinking modes, which might be called open and closed. 

The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. 

Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful. If you are leaping a ravine, the moment of takeoff is a bad time for considering alternative strategies. When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don’t waste energy trying to see the funny side of it. Do it in the “closed” mode. 

But the moment the action is over, try to return to the “open” mode - to open your mind again to all the feedback from our action that enables us to tell whether the action has been successful, or whether further action is need to improve on what we have done.  In other words, we must return to the open mode, because in that mode we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent.” John Cleese


"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work." Chuck Close, artist


“Optimism, Pessimism, Fuck That! We’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.” Elon Musk.


“People think that focus means saying yes to the thing that you’ve got to focus on… Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things” Steve Jobs

Design & Engineering 

“The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.” Elon Musk

Business Model 

“A startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model.” Steve Blank


“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” Elon Musk

Stress Management 

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened”. Winston Churchill


“There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.” Buckminister Fuller


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." Anaïs Nin

In Summary

This is only a subset of the tasks to be done. You could write a whole book on it and that is what make innovation so fun and challenging.

With more and more jobs in business and industry being reduced or taken over entirely by computers, robots and artificial intelligence, perhaps innovation is the one task that humans will always be able to keep a grasp on and hold off computers from taking over entirely.

No doubt, computers and A.I. can play a part in the innovation process, so perhaps this may be better stated as, innovation is the one thing that will always require humans in the loop to succeed.

The definition of innovation is simple, but when you think about what it takes to achieve it, it is not so simple after all. You need to have curiosity, creativity, confidence, foresight, rigorous measurement, determination, perseverance, leadership, teamwork, resilience and resourcefulness!

Here’s to the crazy ones. 

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie