From idea to implementation: quotes and questions to motivate innovators
Launched in 2012, YourStory's Book Review section features over 250 titles on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital transformation. See also our related columns The Turning Point, Techie Tuesdays, and Storybites.
Conversations, stories, speeches, proverbs, and quotes have triggered off a range of creative initiatives by people over the centuries. Personal experiences with problems have launched many entrepreneurs on startup journeys, and inspiring quotes have kept them focused and motivated in their endeavours.
A collection of over 50 motivational and inspirational quotes is presented in this book by Andrew Vorster, The Art of Inspiring Innovation and Transformation: Quotes, Quips and Questions.
Andrew Vorster is an innovation consultant based in London, and has worked in the startup, technology, and corporate sectors for over 30 years. He was earlier a mentor at Startupbootcamp, and CTO at Visa Europe, Workthing, and PeopleBank. He graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
The slender 100-page book makes for a quick read, but readers will benefit in their innovation journeys by immersing in the quotes and questions he poses.
Here are my takeaways from this collection, and a selection of 10 quotes. See also my reviews of the related titles How to Steal Fire, The Art of Noticing, Quirky, How to get to Creative Ideas, The Creative Curve, and The Art of Creative Thinking.
“Innovation is a mix of both art and science,” Andrew begins. But the softer inspirational and creative aspects of motivation and innovation are often overlooked, he observes, calling for a focus on the human factor.
See also the YourStory pocketbook, ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).
Each quote in Andrew's book is attractively presented in a pair of facing pages, with the explanation and related questions on the left. The right-hand side features a short description of the narrator along with the quote presented on top of a photograph taken by the author from his travels around the world. The photos add a personal touch to the discussion, and are from locations as varied as Italy and Maldives to South Africa and Philippines.
Stories and quotes by iconic innovators like Steve Jobs continue to inspire entrepreneurs, Andrew explains. Innovators need to be willing to challenge their assumptions, get out of their comfort zones, and change themselves to achieve their dreams.
The book draws on diverse examples like Lego, collaborative ecosystems of companies like Google, an ‘upcyling’ artist in Cape Town, creatures from nature, and the vision of leaders like Nelson Mandela.
Innovators have to be trend-watchers and trend-setters. A sense of curiosity and continuous learning (and unlearning) helps in the hard slog ahead, Andrew explains. This is especially relevant while making connections and combinations across industries, or learning from one’s travels.
Creators should have a strong sense of purpose and be able to withstand criticism of “crazy” ideas, Andrew adds. A sense of gratitude also helps, while assisting others during their hard times. Constraints can lead to new forms of frugal creativity as well.
Creative organisations need to have diverse and agile teams, and create cultures that do not fear the unknown, he recommends. Unfortunately, many companies suffer from “analysis paralysis,” and a lack of passion at work. They also lack reinforcement of regular creative habits and an ability to learn from failures.
“Technology failures will force you to rethink simplicity or find a better, more reliable solution,” Andrew advises.
Many companies have failed because they have not tested their assumptions, recognised their biases, and shaken off over-confidence. Digital transformation is bringing about major changes in behaviour, but there are also unintended consequences and risks, he warns.
Some companies prefer a path of incremental changes. “The biggest results are often as a result of being the trailblazer,” Andrew advises. Storytelling helps during these transformations.
The author asks readers a number of provocative questions. What are you going to do that you’ve never done before? When last did you scan the horizon? Will you build walls against the winds, or windmills? What unknowns do you fear? What is standing in the way of your potential? Do you want to go fast or do you want to go far? What ecosystems are you a part of? Have you woken up yet?
There will undoubtedly be hardships ahead, but these too will eventually pass. “Embrace the fear and explore the future – you will be amazed by what it holds,” Andrew affirms. Innovation demands that minds be open to the “art of the possible”.
It would be fitting to the end this review with a sample of quotes from this inspiring book.
Curiosity doesn't kill the cat; it kills the competition. - Sam Walton
Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther. - JP Morgan
A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in history, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila. - Mitch Ratcliffe
If you can't pay it back, pay it forward. - Catherine Ryan Hyde
If you change nothing, nothing changes. - Tony Robbins
If you don't turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else's story. - Terry Pratchett
We can choose to throw stones, to stumble on them, to climb over them, or to build with them. - William Arthur Ward
Feel the fear and do it anyway. - Susan Jeffers
Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. - Anita Desai
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens. - Jimi Hendrix
Edited by Teja Lele Desai