The Science of Innovation

How to Imagine the Unimaginable ?


Innovation can help solve some of the world's biggest issues by looking at them from different angles. Innovation is different from changing industries and things by repeating old methods, but rather looking to create new approaches.  Why then, are some companies able to see and create things that others can't and what gives them the confidence to invest in the unknown? We found three brain-based strategies to explain the science of innovation from the Entrepreneur magazine, so be sure to read them through!

Tesla is a good example of a company that dares to disrupt and change industries that have stayed the same for decades. From electric cars to autonomous vehicles and solar energy, Tesla challenges conventional thinking at every step of its operations and has produced products that even a decade ago seemed impossible. Being a trendsetter

But shouldn't that be the goal for any company? Entrepreneurs should dream about being the trendsetters in their markets and coming up with innovations that get wind beneath their wings and change the common way, because these types of successes quickly lead to high profits and revenue as well. As tempting as "imagining the unimaginable" sounds, the reality is really quite grounding. Over sixty percent of products fail within the first two years in the markets and an astounding 96% of innovations don't meet their costs, so it's pretty accurate to say that innovations is a hard sell.

So, why can certain companies see things that others can’t? What gives these companies the fortitude to invest in the seemingly impossible? The answers to these questions may surprise you with their introspective thinking. After all, people make startups and people have brains, whether they're used or not. 

Here are three brain-based strategies to help you leverage your imagination and innovativeness:

1. Imagine and visualize.

Observation alone is insufficient. Startups should deliberately add imagination and imagery to their protocol. This is how companies like Amazon are able to predict the markets; they're constantly asking themselves, "What if?" while pairing futuristic tech trends with wild imaginations.  

Forming a mental image of a desired outcome helps the execution of it, because imagining things stimulates your brain and warms it up for action if you will. A good example of this is the late Steve Jobs. Many studies show that for example training patients that have suffered from a stroke to imagine moving their limbs and motion actually improved movement in the damaged areas.

For a business point of you, start by imagining what problems your start up will solve and how that will happen. Each detail should be an image in your mind, not just a narrative. The more vivid the images are, the more you are stimulating your brain to start working.

2. Question data and assumptions.

Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar, said in his book that innovations are often stunted by hidden forces. For startups, counting too much on data can easily become a roadblock. Data can accurately reflect historical trends in the markets, but it does not always represent the present moment, nor does it necessarily predict the future. 

Consider this psychological example: When people who attended the study, were asked to count how many passes a basketball team made at the first half of the game, none of them noticed a gorilla suited man walking across the basketball field. Why? Because the task they were given, subconsciously trained them to focus only on the obvious factors related to the task. 

Given that humans are easily manipulated by data and how we perceive it, to what extent should we rely on it? Avoid prematurely tying your startup to numbers and data, because you'll block out innovation by embracing the fallacy of "reality". Use data with skepticism and always test assumptions before putting them into practice.

3. De-stress. 

Stress tends to help bad habits stick to the brain and prevents people from embracing and acquiring new patterns of thinking. Stress also causes people to make unmeasured and hasty decisions, through out history, there are a lot of examples from even the most prolific business leaders that have made unwise decisions on behalf of their companies due to stress and tight schedules.

This is why it's very important to learn how to destress and let you brain work at its full capacity. Set aside time, companywide, for relaxation and mental refueling that has precautionary effects. Consider something as simple as meditation classes for your employees, that's what google and apple do to boost creativity in their work environment. This helps your workers, and you, to identify, explore and dispel the causes of stress that derail the brain. 


Imagining the unimaginable is  within your biological reach. Data and trends only tell you so much about innovation and success, so harnessing the brainpower of your entire team can help you unlock the true potential of your startup and create unexpected growth and prosperity.