Innovation—what is it and who creates it? Innovators take a new and creative idea, execute it and put it into production, practice, mold it into a product, perhaps turn it into art, education, or a business or, for that matter…take it home. (For many, duct tape is often a primary part of the innovation project.) Truth is, many of us are more creative and innovative than we think. In fact, there is currently a strong movement in business and education to teach creativity at all levels of education. (Example: the Design School at Stanford is doing that at the K-12 level as well as in at the university level.) Everyone benefits when we use our entire brain, not only to think analytically, but to also think creatively.

Most of us start out thinking creatively. Studies have shown that 1st graders consider themselves creative until their minds are changed by the 5th or 6th grade. Innovation is present in more places than we realize, from the minds of small children to business people, to doctors and nurses, to architects, engineers, tech wizards, to employees on the front line, to directors in the board room, to the educators, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs funded by micro loans in India, as well as artists operating in every part of the world. In this blog, we celebrate those initiatives, those innovators. But who are the Master Innovators?

Master Innovators are creative, they are innovative, and they execute on their ideas (creative thinking is not enough). Master Innovators go further than most, as they change the game, change the rules, change the marketplace, start movements, start revolutions, and change the face of art, change an entire industry, change people’s thinking, or change a state, a country, the world. Master Innovators usually start small; they learn as they go and they are driven toward change and improvement as they act out their dissatisfaction with the status quo. What are some quick and easy examples? From a sports angle, the game of football was changed on September 5, 1906 when at St. Louis University, a quarterback named Bradbury Robinson tossed a pigskin to teammate Jack Schneider for the first forward pass. That day, the game was scoreless. Yet according to history, head coach Eddie Cochems was frustrated with his team’s inability to move the ball by running. For weeks, his team had been secretly practicing this new art of tossing the ball forward from a starting position behind the ear. For the record, the very first forward pass was incomplete, however, on SLU’s next possession, Robinson connected with Schneider 20-yards down field. The defense was so shocked that Schneider waltzed in for the score. Football was never the same.

Who are some others? Mandela changed a country, Chaplin changed movies, Henry Ford changed manufacturing. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed personal computing (and more). Miles Davis changed music. Florence Nightingale changed nursing and the medical model. Descartes changed philosophy. Newton changed physics and then Einstein changed it again. Sony changed mobile high fidelity music with the invention of the Walkman. A Master Innovator changes the game, not just certain aspects of the game, but the entire game.

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