People who conclude that more money is needed before they can launch innovative projects, may be asking the wrong question. Recent cognitive discoveries suggest that money actually robs motivation and tends to decrease inventions. In reality, when you focus on money - you simply become more focused on money. It's how the human brain can diminish innovative initiatives, and work against renewal efforts that would otherwise set your business apart. Apply that propensity to make money as a focal point in organizations, for instance, and you’ll soon spot instances where green backs hamper creative brainpower. Take tenured or senior workers say, who feel threatened by new talents that upset traditional routines. Or observe top executives who care more about personal compensation over time, than about supporting workplace innovation. Consider government leaders who perform more to please funding sources than to serve their voters. Take start-ups who worry more about finding dollars to launch innovations, than about inventions that require risk for human capitol they already possess.
So where does innovation fit?
It started as an ordinary high school basketball game, in one entrepreneurial teenager’s approach, and ended as a top national news story of innovative wonder. An autistic teenager, Jason McElwain, scored 20 points in the final four minutes to win the title for Greece Athena High School. Nobody except J-Mac expected it to happen. Denied a place on his dream team, J-Mac agreed to serve as water boy, cheer leader, and captain of the team. In each role however, this lover of basketball, refused to let go of his dream, What if I could play in a real game with my team?
An uncluttered what if question led J-Mac to win gold, on his first time off the bench. It also inspired him to write a best selling book with Daniel Paiser titled, The Game of My Life: a True Story of Struggle, Triumph and Growing Up Autistic. You may not end up on CNN as J-Mac’s story did, but imagine the windfall if today could offer you a similar slice of brilliance.
What if you could accomplish something never before accomplished by using parts of your brain never before used? It rarely takes as long as people think, and often comes with more missteps than most expect. J-Mac put it this way, “My first shot was an air ball. Then I missed a lay up., and then as soon as the second shot, as soon as that went in, I started to catch fire.”
The key to innovation without money, is to think like a genius, ask what if, and jump in with two feet? Yes, engage two feet to power up both sides of your brain, as J-Mac did in last few seconds of that losing game. When the coach finally called him off the bench to suit up, others saw this autistic player enter a lost game. J-Mac, though, spotted a moment of opportunity.
Ask yourself what if a genius guided my talents today? Then watch for that J-Mac-break to pop up as you chase your what if question. Forget past failures, or lack of funds.
Instead, rev up winning brainpower as this teen did, by mentally reinventing your approach to a problem that holds back those who wait for more money to fund their actions. Two-footed, what if questions open success opportunities, one brain cell at a time. How so? In this case, one foot stirs curiosity as the left brain wonders about neuro facts with rewiring potential. The other foot tosses in brainpower from the right brain’s creative capability to convert brain facts into winning strategies.
Brain gurus would say J-Mac generated new neuron pathways to achieve his dream. Whatever you call this mental reboot, it takes less money and adds more dividends to a day than most people predict. What if you triumphed, as J-Mac did, over a challenge you face today? Imagine the impact of innovation – with invigorated brainpower that could begin to replenish our shrinking public purse.
Expect the best and stay in the game until it comes - Starting as water carrier is rarely easy when many in this recession enjoyed finer heights. In each role toward innovation, there will be challenges until a win comes.
Ask what if - Then explore how you can accomplish something never before accomplished by using parts of your brain never before used. That may mean new approaches to solve old problems - in novel ways.
- What if - peace rather than war would reallocate money to strengthen caring and innovative communities? (See articles at http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/category/peace/ )
- What if - A new conversation began to reconsider the distribution of wealth that a flawed money system created, with opportunities for innovative change in how we frame, define, and apply financial guidelines that work more for Main street than for holding together broken systems on Wall St? (See articles at http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/?s=finance )
- What if we supported more innovative communities such as the MIX and offer diverse views to ensure the impact of innovation – with invigorated brainpower that could begin to replenish our shrinking public purse?
In the book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, David Korten calls for a turn away from the false capitalism which led to wealth for a few only, and away from socialism that people fear for its concentration of wealth to a few only. Somewhere in between - where we build communities of care, and refuse to build the world around money as wealth (which is a false notion) Korten claims, lies real wealth for an entire prople.
A must read for further reading on the many integrated parts of the brain that relate to innovation, risk, rewards, and new possibilities for rewiring, is The Brain the Changes Itself, by Dr. Norman Doidge (MD). His is not so much the role to engage skeptists about newly discovered brainpower opportunities - as to tell stories of innovative leaders who acted innovatively far more on what they knew and discovered. Wonderful stories of innovation, without money , and against a backdrop of naysayers - who act less and doubt more. Innovation takes application of what we do know to improve what we've flawed. That is a daily research/practice task of possibilities for innovator such as MIX members who take risks, apply what they learn and make a difference to rewire broken systems.
Interestingly, in Tom Wujec's experiment in the TED vieo below - Build a Tower - Build a Team, when money was offered to the winning team, people did far worse, as yet another example of money proven to be less reward for innovation than one may expect.