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Do We Have to Know It All to Be Innovative?

cow and drone

Are strategies like brainstorming, extensive information gathering, and deep analysis of data the most productive ways to enhance innovative thinking?

In his post on the topic, Paul Earle comments about trying to know too much, too comprehensively:

“As professionals in the world of brands and innovation, we are trained to scour the category in which we operate for every last morsel of information and insight.

“You know the drill: gather all the data (hey, ‘big data’ even!), learn all the rules, hyper-analyze every competitor big and small, go deep on consumer research, understand everything about what has been done before and why.”

But, he adds, “When it comes to innovation, we should remember that ‘know-it-all’ is a pejorative term!”

Read more of his post (on the Innovation Excellence site): Origin Stories of Innovation™: The Power of Creative Naiveté.

One of the books from the organization: Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire: A Roadmap to a Sustainable Culture of Ingenuity and Purpose by Braden Kelley.


The image is one example of innovation: Drones are being used for mapping, agriculture, film, photography, advertising, police and military surveillance, monitoring inaccessible structures, even package delivery some day if Amazon’s plans work out.

(Image from The global race for drone regulation.)


Innovation is a journey

In a post on her site, Sharon Pearson, a coach, entrepreneur and author, responds to the question: “How Do You Become Innovative?” She writes:

“I get asked this question all the time. I don’t love the question, but I do love it when people love exploring the answer.

“The moment the question is asked, innovation is lost.

“The question itself is the problem. It implies that there is an answer to this question that will work.

“There is an answer. In this moment. And in this moment. And in this moment.

“Each moment has a new answer. Creativity and innovation is not a destination. It’s a journey. It’s an unfolding.”

She explains, “Innovative thinking is seeing what is and asking questions that are not about it.

“For example:

What is this not solving?
What is this causing that we don’t want?
If we didn’t have this, what would we have instead?
If this had never been considered, what would have happened, instead?

“These questions are starting to be innovative, but they’re not really getting us there.

“True innovative thinking is more like this:

“What if this reality didn’t exist?”

Read more in her post Meta Change.

Sharon Pearson is a presenter at the free Brain-A-Thon training webinar hosted by John Assaraf – Founder, Chairman and CEO, NeuroGym.

Other presenters include Srini Pillay, MD – Harvard Professor, Neuroscientist and Neuro Coach; Daniel Amen, MD – Founder, Amen Clinics, Bestselling Author of “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”; David Krueger, MD – Executive Mentor and Author, “The Secret Language of Money”; Heidi Hanna, PhD – Bestselling Author and Neuroscientist.


Emotion and innovation

The Creativity ChallengeKH Kim, a professor of Creativity and Innovation at the College of William & Mary, comments in her article “The Creativity Crisis In America!”:

“Innovators experience deep emotions, are sensitive to the environment, and are emotionally expressive.

“Emotions affect creativity often more than cognitive or other rational factors and are found in all creative endeavors including science and arts.”

From my article Emotional Intelligence for Innovation.

Her book is The Creativity Challenge: How We Can Recapture American Innovation.


Do We Have to Know It All to Be Innovative?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2017). Do We Have to Know It All to Be Innovative?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Apr 2017
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