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The Power of Imagination

21 May 2013
Vineet Nayar

Innovate or die is comfortably the loudest call of this business decade. And though there is no denying its importance, yet somehow one feels that the word has been beaten to death by patronizations of all kind. And so what we see most of the time happening in the name of ‘innovation’ is nothing more than some off-tangent strokes of inconsistently brilliant ideas or simply incremental value creation. And this syndrome owes itself to a failed understanding of the term as an act in isolation not as a way of work/life.

So to begin with we have to set the perspective straight – innovation is not an act alone, but a way of thinking, the way of understanding problems and situations and finding imaginative solutions to it. Yes the key word here is imagination. If you lack imagination then innovation will always be hard to come.

If you look at great companies and great teams you would see that they excel year after year simply by imagining or thinking out great ideas. Ideas that nobody had thought before. And it is these ideas, that when translated into action, become innovation. So I believe that imagination is a necessary precursor or the vital launch pad for innovation. And it is imagination that we have to first practice before expecting innovation!

Imagination consists of thinking the un-thought, of going and seeing where no one else has gone before and breaking down our mental blocks. Imagination has multiple facets to it and one of the most important facet lies in the belief that “it can be done”. Here I would like to go back to my favorite book Jonathan Livingston Seagullwhich predominantly talks about the idea that the precepts of space and time are actually all in the mind. So if you imagine you are ‘there’ then you are actually ‘there’. Conversely speaking then innovation becomes the habit of breaking mind blocks. What do you think?