Question: Which is most important: the spark, the fuel, or the flame?
Faux Fact (one that we can accept even when we can’t prove it): all innovations (great and small) carry only a faint resemblance to the original idea that sparked them.
Insight: Owning and rewarding ideas is counterproductive. Imagine that you are camping with friends on a cold winter night in the woods. All of you had spent a good part of the day gathering wood but then discovered that no one had matches. After arranging a tiny nest of dry tender, you are all striking rocks together to create a spark. Finally, one catches and Bill says, "That was my spark, I get the steak tonight and the rest of you can eat beans."
Hmmmm. Does it make any sense to recognize and reward people who had the initial idea but not recognize and reward all the people who made the fire possible?
Insight: Building, molding, shaping, refining, crafting, testing and reworking ideas are just as important as stimulating and capturing the original idea spark.
Insight: Gathering enough fuel to keep the fire burning is just as critical as the spark. And, what’s the fuel for innovation? New information and connections, stories and metaphors, conversations, understanding customer needs, working together collaboratively, and deliberately focusing the energies of people with a diversity of perspectives, experiences, skills and talents and thinking styles.
Insight: Striking rocks to create sparks is great ... but wouldn’t it be better to have a match? And, what’s the match that creates a possibility whenever it’s struck? People with energy and
passion for a challenge. Not all matches light fires: some flicker out before reaching the fuel, some are blown out by harsh judgments, some fall on barren ground. But the potential for fire -- for innovation -- is always there.