Are You Learning from Others to Imitate or to Innovate?

Downturns in the economy bring great innovations, and is when many successful companies get their start.  Whether it be during the Great Depression when HP was founded, or during 1975 recession when Microsoft started. American's are resilient and entrepreneurial, and when things get tough, we start innovating! (to read more on this see this link)

What are you doing to prosper during this economic slowdown?  Are you trying to innovate and think outside the box, or are you simply copying ideas from others?

Don't get me wrong, I love to learn.  I subscribe to around a hundred RSS feeds (ok I need to cut the list down. I have 1,200 feeds to read today),  have too many Twitter friends than I can follow, and love a good book and a lively debate.  Learning from others is not the problem that holds us back from innovating, the problem is if we let others do the thinking for us.

When you are in learning from others, do you find yourself taking what they say and finding ways to apply it to your own life, or do you think about what they have to say and how it will impact the future?

If we do not think about current application and future implications, we are missing out on one of the best parts of learning.  We must apply, but we also must spend time thinking about innovation.  We should always be asking ourselves, of everything I have learned today, and everything I know, what's next?  What is missing?  What is it that everyone else is talking about, but may have overlooked?

From this week on, I am challenging myself to spend time each day trying to innovate.  During this time I will use what I have learned to think outside the box and innovate.  This could simply be a new way to do some little task, or it could be developing new ideas on where marketing is headed.

Great companies do this.  3M allows time for their employees to think of new ideas, so does Google.  We need to take this time as well.

We spend countless hours reading and learning from others about their innovations.  Now it is our turn to  innovate!