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Aug 2 2005

Innovation, Progress, and Imagination

Change is inevitable. One can only hope that it is progressive. In my line of work I have to constantly wonder “What am I going to have to learn next?” The web industry in general moves very quickly, and if you don’t keep up with it, it can leave you behind the learning curve very fast. If you don’t progress in your field, you end up sticking to your old habits, relying on them, and even defending them while newer and better methods emerge.

As I have said before, I am a problem solver. What has come to mind more recently is that every situation can be addressed as ‘a problem.’ Not a problem in a negative sense, more like a math problem. The only difference is in your career, and life in general, there is no ‘right answer.’ You have to constantly be ready to learn. To quote one of my personal heros, Albert Einstein:

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

So simple, yet profound. But it can be hard to innovate when business gets busy. The tendency to ‘just get the work done, and get it done fast’ is a very easy trap to fall into. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with ‘fast.’ But remember that innovation takes time, creativity, and most importantly, effort.

Now, to make things even more difficult, innovation, to me, is not just solving a problem. It’s finding new problems. Sure, you can innovate an existing concept, but to me, true innovation goes beyond our current scope of knowledge. To do this we need to understand the tools which drive our innovation.

Currently on my list of things to learn and improve upon are:

Music always does wonders for my creative energy. Both listening to and making music. (I currently play rhythm acoustic guitar.) As far as aiding innovation, ‘stepping back’ from the task at hand to remind myself of, or (re)define, the overall objectives for a project has always helped. Forget current methodology, existing tools, and work you’ve already done. Find the best answer to your ‘problem,’ then figure out how to deliver that solution.

So what’s on your list of things to learn? What feeds your imagination? What helps you innovate?