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This Week’s Focus: Here’s an exercise for you: In the next 30 seconds, list as many white objects as you can. Don’t read on, please; just give it go. OK, how did you do? Now, here’s stage two: In the next 30 seconds, list as many white objects that you might find in a fridge as you can. Again, how many did you list? (See note)

If you’re like most people, you probably found it easier to list the white fridge objects, even though the number of white objects you might find in a fridge are just a fraction of the vast collection of white objects that exist in the world. The truth is, however, that having a clear focus doesn’t inhibit creativity; it encourages creativity.

It’s the same in the business world. Amazon’s torrent of innovation over the past decade or so has been aided by the company’s focus on three over-riding objectives: offering customers more choice; bringing down prices; and providing faster delivery speeds. Similarly, Dyson has benefited by keeping its innovation focused on how to apply its air movement technologies to different products (vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, domestic fans and hair dryers) rather than trying to develop a range of diverse technologies.

What could be the focus for your innovation efforts, and how much more innovative could your organisation be if you did?

Note: I first came across this exercise in the excellent book, Made To Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath.

Off The Record: Ride A White Swan by T. Rex

Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days

Wear a tall hat and a tattooed gown

Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane

Wear your hair long, babe you can’t go wrong

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.