How to Unleash the Innovator inside You!

Abhishek Shah
5 min readNov 12, 2016

Elon Musk is considered to be one of the best innovators of our times, and there are many others like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg who have changed the face of the world with their products. Surely, these are the names from the western world and we all have been inspired by them, but that does not mean we don’t have innovators in our own country. Phanindra Sama, the founder of and Dhruv Lakra, CEO, and founder of Mirakle Couriers are some of the indigenous inspirations that we have who have brought about a big change in their businesses worlds. Although these individuals are now business owners, it is important to understand that to be an innovator it is not necessary that you must be an entrepreneur.

The potential to drive innovation is not unique to a selected few, but everyone is an innovator, and everyone displays their innovations in various aspects of life. You don’t need to be running a business to showcase your innovative skills, but you can innovate wherever you want and in whatever field you like. Whether you are an employee, a student or a homemaker, everyone has the potential to innovate in their own different ways. So how can you unlock this gift that we all have and take advantage of the innovator within ourselves? Here I have 3 steps which will guide you to unleash your inner innovator.

Expose Yourself to Everything

If you take a closer look at the innovations, you will realize that innovators have rarely invented a completely new product, but most of the innovations that we have around us have simply been made through changes to an existing product, making few tweaks, or simply making stupendous upgrades that have changed the way things work.

Cameras were invented long before a digital camera was made, and it only took a keen eye of Philippe Kahn who integrated the camera with the phone. Same is with the Apple products where there always existed a cell phone and a music player but it was the innovation of Steve Jobs that brought us iPhones and iPods. We always had cab service in our countries, but it was Uber who brought about the change of how we can use this service better.

Innovation is always there around you, but to see it you must have an open mind and expose yourself to exploring avenues. A change that you can make to an existing product makes it a whole new product, thus becoming an innovation. Start observing various components that make up a whole product. You will then understand what modifications can be made to it to come up with a different product altogether.

Take a wrist watch for an instance. The job of a simple watch is to tell you time which would involve an hour hand and a minute hand. Remove those hands and display numbers, it becomes a digital watch. Add a microchip processor to it and it becomes a smart watch. The better you understand a product or service, the better you will be able to identify its specifications that you can modify or change. The more flexible you are to adapting to new change, the better equipped you will be to innovate something new.

Discover Needs

If any concept that you come up with does not bring about a change in someone else’s life, then it would not be termed as an innovation. It is important that the innovation should either solve an existing problem or give a better solution that makes the lives easy.

We all had telephones once upon a time in our homes and some still have those, which are plugged into walls and can be used to talk to people. While the basic problem of instant communication was solved, a cordless phone just made the product a lot better as you could take the phone with you. That is why it is important to understand what is that the customer desires, and what are their needs and problems which can be solved.

In simple words, innovation is simply the way to solve existing problems, and you can do that only when you understand the problems of the people. For this reason, it is important for you to be empathetic towards other’s feelings so as to relate to their sufferings and pain. When you understand the struggle that someone is facing and you can truly appreciate it, then you have taken the first step towards innovation. Put yourself in another’s shoes and see the world from their point of view. This is one of the best ways to be innovative where you can take up the challenge to identify the needs.

Envisage the solution

We all try to visualize the solutions that we come up with and try to apply it to the real world. But that is where the problem begins. We try to fit the solution on a practical level in the world as we know it, where we are confined by the “real world” restrictions. This is what leads to rejecting many of the great ideas just because they did not fit well or were not practical enough. But to be an innovator, you must understand that you must leave the reality behind for some time.

Take your time and analyze how your product or service would work in a perfect world which does not have the present day restrictions. Imagine your ideal solution and make it as perfect as it can get, and only then you can start exploring how to make this idea come to reality. Just because somethings are not in favor today does not mean they won’t be tomorrow. So, if you dream to bring about a change, then you must visualize your solution in an ideal world, because only when you think freely is when you will get the great ideas.

As you can see, innovation is not restricted to the Harvard and Stamford graduates only but anyone can be an innovator with an open mind and a quest to solve the problems. So don’t hold yourself back and let your mind explore the streams of thoughts so that one day you will have unleashed the innovator inside you.

P.S. Some books that we recommend

The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge (Harvard Business Review (Hardcover))
Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create and Develop Ideas for your Challenge
Innovation Tools: The most successful techniques to innovate cheaply and effectively
Innovation: How to Boost your Creativity, Anticipate Trends and Build a Successful Business
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Innovation (with featured article “The Discipline of Innovation,” by Peter F. Drucker)
Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work

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Abhishek Shah

Nomad | Early Stage Investor | Wannabe Anthropologist | Technology Evangelist | Curious, Inquisitive & Experimental Entrepreneur