BOOKCASE : Imagine: What Wedgwood, Da Vinci, Mozart, Eiffel, Disney (and many others) can teach us about innovation

• Ian Hunter
• Penguin Group
• RRP $40.00

Did you know that as well as improving the sewing machine by introducing foot pedal (so users could keep both hands on their sewing), Isaac Singer introduced hire purchase scheme where salespeople called on households each month to collect the next payment instalment on the machines? Neither did I, until I read Imagine, and that is just one example of the numerous people, innovations and time periods covered.
Hunter tells the personal stories – from Enid Blyton and children’s books, to Walt Disney, Florence Nightingale and Amadeus Mozart – and pulls out list of things these great innovators had in common: what he dubs the ‘Seven Pillars of Innovation’.
“If you want to be more innovative in your life or business, there are definitely key areas to nurture,” he says. “For example, focus and persistence helped the American chocolate manufacturer Milton Hershey succeed during period of economic downturn. Lessons like that can really resonate for people working in our current business climate.”
Keeping journal, setting aside time for thinking and learning to say no emerge as Hunter’s three top tips to improve creativity and productivity.
Although I didn’t know it, I think I have been waiting for book like this – one which helps make something tangible from the sometimes intangible concept that is innovation.
Hunter does this by examining the principles and practice of innovation in companies and organisations, and ranging through the lives of some of history’s biggest innovators in many different fields: business, but also inventors, artists and musicians. While the book is partly aimed at business market it also ranges far wider and covers huge base of resource material. Why are some people more innovative than others? What are the enduring characteristics of great innovators?
By telling personal stories which are easy to read and engaging, Hunter provides book in which managers, leaders, educators and professionals will be able to find principles and practices to apply in their own work and their lives.
Hunter is senior lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland Business School. This book is delight of ideas many of which contain surprising amount of business savvy. Great reading.

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