Where do you get inspiration to do the things that you do? The truth is we all need a little inspiration every once in a while to spur us towards our goal or dreams. This is because dreams can be scary and if we focus on the scary bit, we miss the audacity to stretch and confidently strive towards them. Innovation is not any different. For innovation to count within your organization there must be clarity of what should be done and given that most innovation bets are very daring , inspiration will go a long way in fostering these efforts. Here are some of my favorite quotes that inspire me.

If you want to go fast – go alone. But if you want to go far – go together. (African proverb)

Every organization that takes innovation seriously has in place a process through which they manage their innovation projects. Most borrow from the stage gate, a phase driven go/no-go process that requires decision by key senior execs (gate keepers) at every stage. Before decisions are made on whether to proceed or not, a lot of consultation and alignment must be done. Given the pressure to launch faster, there can be the temptation to avoid certain processes or people who could be project ‘derailers’. I have found that incorporating every feedback shared creates ownership of the project giving it a better chance of success through support by all.

Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices. (L. Duncan)

In his book, How to kill a unicorn, Mark Payne describes unicorns as ideas that are great to think about but don’t become real. Such ideas probably exist in utopia. The aim of innovation should be to gain commercial value by tapping into a consumer need which if solved will not only make the consumers’ life better but also bring profit to the business. A great innovation must therefore have both the consumer insight and the commercial insight that will transform ideas into money.

Execution is everything (John Doerr)

Successful innovations do not end with a great launch, the work starts after the launch or go live date. Most organizations stop working as hard after the launch. For your innovation to work you must measure milestones post launch. Check against your launch objectives to ensure that the objectives are being met. Objectives include things such as pricing, distribution, rate of sales and consumer feedback. Ideally you should be consistently doing the right work at bringing the ideas to life in the market and being bold enough to accept what isn’t working and putting the correct measures in place to course correct. It is not how many ideas you have. It’s how many you make happen.

Managers say yes to innovation only if doing nothing is a bigger risk (Gijs van Wulfen)

Most organizations are risk averse. The preference is to grow incrementally by improving processes or products. For organizations that have embraced innovations, there is still the view that disruptive innovations are riskier and only accept to engage in these innovation efforts if doing nothing is a bigger risk.


Status quo is Latin for, ‘The mess we’re in.’ [Ronald Reagan]

Am sure we have all come across people who tell us, “We have always done it this way.” Innovations requires you to challenge the status quo. In a world that is changing at a very fast pace, there is need for a different way of thinking and doing things.

When the rate of change outside is more than what is inside, be sure that the end is near. (Azim Premji)

Organizations that are inward looking suffer this fate more often than not. Although such organizations may be aware of external changes, some choose to cling on what has always worked for them. Unfortunately they only realize this late and efforts to turn around are usually a little too late. Most don’t survive this revolution. A good example I can think of is Kodak and the digital revolution era.

The biggest room is the room for improvement. (Anonymous)

The difference between innovations and invention is that invention creates a product or introduces a process for the first time. Innovation on the other hand improves on or makes a significant contribution to an existing product, process or service. Great innovators should therefore think about big things but still do the small things that lead them to the bigger things. Waiting for perfection or the never seen before product may mean no launch at all.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. (George Bernard Shaw)

Dawin was right when he said many centuries ago that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. If you don’t like change then don’t innovate. Projects can be very dynamic and change significantly before launch. Innovation rock stars know that change is the only constant and are ready to ride the waves of change.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish. (Steve Jobs)

Companies that value innovation agree that learning and innovation go hand in hand. What worked yesterday may not work today or tomorrow. They learn and relearn. They use success and failure as lenses into the future and not as tried and tested ways of doing things. They always ask, “Can we do it better? Can we do it differently?

The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf)

There is no excitement going after what you know you can achieve easily. To succeed in making innovation happens, you must make it a habit to do the things that scare you a little bit. That project that everyone things will not be a success or that product that has never been launched. Try it. There is so much satisfaction that comes with such success. Walt Disney puts it this way, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

The biggest risk in innovation lies in sticking too closely to your plans. (D. Hills, Walt Disney Company)

Just because you spent a lot of time planning and doing, it doesn’t mean that you must continue doing it. Most failed innovations are a result of creating solutions to existing problems in the hope that it can solve the initial problems. It is okay to accept that despite the effort and investment, changing the project could be the better choice. Including ‘killing it’.

The best ideas lose their owners and take on lives of their own. (N. Bushnell)

This is one of my favorite because everyone likes to be associated with success. Projects that do not succeed lack ‘owners’ but those that succeed are owned by everyone. Great innovators know that to have a better chance of succeeding at launches, there must be ownership across all functions. Having innovation champions could be a great start.

Nothing is stronger than habit. [Ovid]

This brings it all together. To make innovation happen, it must be part of how you do things every day. Innovation must be part of your strategy if you want to succeed. I hope this inspires you to innovate better or change how you innovate.