79 One Sentence Innovation Tips

We love innovation tips — especially lists to help with innovation and creativity. Two of our favorite innovation lists are:

  1. Sister Corita Kent’s 10 rules that John Cage made famous, and
  2. Bruce Mau’s rules for growth.

We are always making up our own lists — sometimes they are just reminders to be used in innovation workshops, other times they are things to explore further, and sometimes they are deliberately developed as sayings.

Perhaps it is too much to say these are innovation “rules” -- they are really just reminders of pragmatic things to consider when trying to innovate. We keep an ongoing meta-list of tips for innovation — and here it is:

The Provisional Innovation List to Consider for Creative Processes

  1. In the beginning was the act (Wittgenstein)
  2. This is about creation and the making of the new -- what we often call creativity for the lack of a better term. “Novelty”.
  3. The new, creation, and creativity can be overvalued. Much of what is most interesting and important in life is not radically new. 
  4. The new should be approached with an experimental caution. To make great art (or anything else) does not require radical creativity, so let us not fetishize this.
  5. The new will not be understandable when it first appears
  6. The new will be non-cognitive and non-conceptual when it first emerges
  7. Come in third. The first time something new happens it is too unique to even be seen. The second time something new happens it is an echo -- a fleeting unstable double. But it is only when something happens for a third time that it can be recognized. Be there.
  8. Be a follower and not a leader. Follow the odd, unusual, perplexing.
  9. Don’t judge good or bad, that comes later -- just follow
  10. Pay attention not to “what it is” but to “what can it do”
  11. Curiosity curiosity curiosity -- always ask of things and events -- what can they do? What else can they do? And what else can they do?
  12. Produce variations then select then repeat: multiplicity -- selection -- multiplicity -- selection...
  13. Do it again differently. And then do it again differently. Then see the patterns, and frameworks now step outside of these and do it again.
  14. Creativity = constraints. Freedom = constraints. Actively producing constraints = being creative
  15. Don’t break all the rules but develop new rules that break the old framework
  16. Creativity is not just craziness all the time. All activities have phases. You will need to act differently in different phases. Be disciplined about this.
  17. Paradox: only dumb people are capable of doing something new, and only smart people can recognize that they have done something new. Become both dumb and smart all at once.
  18. Creation is about processes. Processes are about procedures and environments. To make something new is to make a series of new processes -- which is to say a series of new environments and procedures. Another way to talk about environments and procedures is via ecosystems. Ecosystems consist of environments, objects, agents, habits etc... 
  19. Everything is collective. Become actively collective and every part equally active.
  20. Things are relations
  21. We are spread out and contain multiplicities.
  22. All reality always involves subjectivity -- it is always happening to someone or something (many things!)
  23. A continuous moving feeling responding thinking process. responding, changing, responding, changing, responding changing...
  24. Keep track.
  25. If something is boring after a minute, do it for five, if it is still boring do it for ten, eventually it will stop being boring. (John Cage)
  26. We sense/feel overallness first, not the details.
  27. The properties of the world (hard, soft, liquid...) are always relational -- they are for something or someone.
  28. Perceptions are not images in our heads. They are actions done by our bodies engaged in purposeful action out in the world.
  29. We make our environments (co-make), and not just adapt.
  30. Technology is at the heart of being human. No technology no human.
  31. We are extended far into what we imagine to be outside of ourselves.  
  32. Meaning comes from doing. ‘Know how’ leads to ‘know what’. Most knowing is not cognitive - it only appears in embodied actions.
  33. Meaning is use (Wittgenstein).  Meaning is relational and contextual. (Even when you work alone art is not a solitary practice). 
  34. Begin in the world and not in your head. 
  35. Don’t trust that your spontaneous actions come from you alone. 
  36. The world is what is done -- this is ongoing -- what is doing.
  37. Change begins with this reality: Welcome the whatever. -- its constraints: history, present functions and existing structures. You cannot start where you want -- begin where you are now. And know the present experimentally. 
  38. There is no stationary point outside of the world to contemplate the world. There is no neutral place for you to contemplate your next move, develop a history or critique an existing system. To interpret is to act, to act is to change (spurse). You are of a world in the making.
  39. Work with a real world. Real change needs a real world. This is different from ideas. Systems, structures, infrastructures, systems of circulation, new words, bodies, materialities, postures, habits, economies...
  40. Orient practices to a future. One makes for a people still to come -- and that includes you. ‘You’ do not pre-exist what you do -- you are an outcome of what  is happening.
  41. Make a new life. In order to make new art you need to work on new ways of living -- new ways of ‘being-of-the-world’. 
  42. You never work alone. When creation works it is a ‘Disclosing’ new modes of being-of-the-world 
  43. Develop new habits first. Meaning making = Habit making (body in world). Habit + Routine = trope (tropism) -- this is transformed in movement (Erin Manning).
  44. Care for events (ecologies, systems) 
  45. Construct flexible frameworks. Be evolving a type of paradigm or over arching logic.
  46. Treat all mediators as modulators
  47. Be OK with ramshackle constructions
  48. The medium is the message. The medium is the massage
  49. Don’t fall for the illusion of content, information or communication (see rules 1 & 2)
  50. Ideas come from actions. Thinking comes from doing. There is no waiting for an idea to come nor is there a divide between theory and practice. There is only doing
  51. All life is lived abstractly -- it selects from too much -- “less is abstraction” (the real meaning of “less is more”)
  52. The trick with abstraction is to push it beyond its limits
  53. Don’t solve problems before you create them
  54. Problems don’t pre-exist in some objective realm. They must be made. The question is: what is the problem that is worth having?
  55. Experiments don’t work most of the time. You will not know the purpose at the beginning of the experiment
  56. Redefine failure
  57. Accept betrayal
  58. Actively forget. To be creative it is as important to forget as to know.
  59. Develop new languages, new processes, new procedures
  60. Treat everything as process
  61. Treat everything as a field
  62. The new happens sequentially, sideways and via emergence
  63. Causality is stranger than you think.
  64. The origin of something is not its essence, it is just what it was.
  65. Ignore stories of purpose and the proper ends/uses of things -- “purpose is a porpoise” (BP Nichols).
  66. Purpose is everything that can grab a hold of something.
  67. Form is excessive. Form is not function.
  68. Be done with the judgement of god. For example: this is not working therefore it is bad. Because it is bad it is evil. Judgements are experiments not final dismissals.
  69. Turn every opposition into a contrast
  70. Pluralize and remove the capitals: Art becomes arts, Science becomes sciences, Nature becomes natures, etc. Be generous.
  71. Resist the present -- you are going to have to know what it is
  72. Avoid the confirmation bias
  73. Avoid Escalation
  74. Diagnose your biases, frameworks and worldviews. These will not all be cognitive -- many will be in how you walk or sit.
  75. Beauty happens -- it is an encounter
  76. Invent tools.
  77. Fear and Creativity -- we think afraid of being judged for doing something new but really we are afraid of the level of betrayal that the new involves. 
  78. Things (actions) don’t happen to you -- they happen to your actions -- actions upon actions (force upon force)
  79. Every meeting is a meeting open to radical change.

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

Delivered Every Friday