5 TED Talks That Will Teach You How to Innovate


I have always been interested with building new things, especially from scratch. It was among the chief reasons why I majored in civil engineering. Because civil engineers build from scratch. But my interest in creating new things was not just in buildings, I have come to understand. It is joining a large group of people in building something new, something never done before and something to challenge us.

We each have our creative potentials, but not many of discover them. I try to find those people who have discovered theirs. In doing that, I found TED, a global community of people mostly celebrated for their creativity and innovation. Watching TED Talks boosts my creative potential I will say. It motivates me in keeping my dream alive of creating something never done before. I have watched more than a 100 TED Talks (I think). Out of those 100, I have replayed about 10 of them over and over again because of the relevance and inspiration I get from them.

I have shortlisted a few of them here. The speakers have been courageous in understanding how people innovate and offer their suggestions for those who want to travel the same way. Whatever business you are in to, I think understanding how to be creative is imperative. Creative skill is one of the most sought after skill in the 21st century among people. So if you are looking for how to boost yours, please take your time to watch any or all of these.

  1. Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

This brilliant talk explored the spaces where good ideas come from. Often, in Nigeria, I get asked to bring new ideas to the table because I have traveled to a number of different places. Well I think they can be right that people who have traveled to a completely new different place and come back to where they live will begin to see things with a fresh of new eyes. And that might be the birth of something new. Or simply, exporting what has worked over there to your hometown. Steven here, though, went back to as far as 17th century to show that ideas in the UK, come from coffee shops back then. The inspiration though is not in the coffee, it is in the coming together of different people from different backgrounds talking about different things. It is the diversity of the coffee shops that makes what two people are thinking in the coffee shop to connect. If anytime you are looking for new ideas of doing something, get into discussion with different sets of people, perhaps at a coffee shop. Chance favours the connected.

  1. Joi Ito: Want to Innovate? Become a “now-ist”

Head of MIT Media Lab Joi Ito does not like the word Futurist. In Japan, I was thought one of the mechanisms of novelty is designing for the future, which is true. However, Joi believes if you want to innovate, you have to become a now-ist. Do it right there and then. Pull the resources to yourself. Deploy your idea or die. And most importantly, learn over educating. Doing makes you learn. Do not wait in school to be educated on everything before you start doing. Start doing and you will learn what needs to be done. Do not delay.

  1. David Kelley: How to Build Your Creative Confidence

David Kelley is someone I want to be like. His mission is to help people gain creative confidence. That is my mission with Innovation Lounge. To foster a culture of creativity and innovation in schools and organizations. David talks of a story of one John, who created a horse out of a clay. One of his classmates told him it was terrible, and he never tried anything like that again. David preaches people shouldn’t be divided into creatives and non-creatives. Everyone has a potential to do something. When you build yourself, with baby steps, in being creative, you get excited and build emotional confidence. Your mental strength builds up as you continue to brainstorm and share new ideas. Do not be defeated when people say your idea is horrible. The secret it to keep trying.

  1. Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

While not being lost in the title of this TED Talk, I find this talk by the foremost English Educationist to be thought provoking in how we can remain creative. Attending schools make us start thinking that all in life is Math, English, Science and the rest of we are taught. We are taught different things according to the disciplines. This may not necessarily be a bad thing if you grow older to pick an interest in a particular field and innovate. But happens is that as a child, you often ask so many questions and do so many things without recourse to anybody’s translation. And that is your creative self. To go after your curiosity. Attending schools will educate us out of that curiosity. It will kill your creative child and transform you into something else. Somewhat. Even for humour, you do not want to miss watching this talk.

There are other TED Talks I want to write about but will do so subsequently. Tony Fadel’s first secret of design is noticing. It is observation. If you want to change something, you have to notice and understand how it is done now before you can change it. The other talk is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Your Elusive Creative Genuis. Julie Burstin 4 Lessons in creativity. I will be writing more on creativity and innovation and reviewing how great innovators come up with quality ideas. Another aspect of innovation I want to write about is social innovation, what Prof. Hideyuki Horii called the necessary condition for the 3rd Miracle to happen. If you do not want to miss such posts, I recommend subscribing to my blog.

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If you think you lack creative confidence and you have not yet unlocked a hidden potential in you, I recommend attending one of our innovation workshops with Innovation Lounge. More than a 100 people have passed through it and a cumulative 600 hours have accrued in trying to come with new quality ideas. If you are interested, please drop me a message.

And if you have found your strides, I urge you to continue. The world needs more ideas like never before. To creativity and innovation.




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