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To be sure, inspiration is not always an “aha moment” by one individual but can often come out of engaging with others. Still, individuals are the vehicles for ideas. They must be nurtured, either through group interaction or in other ways. Perhaps the most popular method requires giving workers the freedom to fail in their ideas.
One reason America has so many inventors is its great tolerance for failure. Just ask researcher show many of their ideas they have stuck in a drawer because the ideas didn’t work.
“We cannot fear failure and create new and amazing things,” says Regina Dugan, a former director of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and now an executive at Google.
Freedom from fear allows thinking to open up to new ideas. It also breaks down the notion of limits on the quantity or quality of ideas. As a report by the Global Creativity Index Creativity notes, creativity “is not a stock of things that can be depleted or worn out, but an infinitely renewable resource that can be constantly improved.”
Yahoo, like many companies, may find that the latest innovation for creating innovation, such as new work arrangements, will stimulate thinking for a while. Flextime at one time was thought to unleash creative work. Now it doesn’t always, if Yahoo is right.
Entrepreneurs often say that “opportunities breed more opportunities.” The same may be true for innovation. A creative idea breeds more creative ideas, and so on. Genius is one part inspiration and ninety-nine parts searching for inspiration.