By April 30, 2013 Read More →

Innovation Quotes

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Innovation is a new idea, method, or device.  This is my hand-crafted collection of the best innovation quotes.

It’s a comprehensive collection of great thoughts on innovation by great thinkers including Edison, Mozart, Michael Porter, Peter Drucker, Seth Godin, and more.

I’ve also included a special section to light up what Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney teach us about building a culture of innovation.

With that in mind, let’s take the balcony view and see what the wise ones have to say about innovation and the power it holds to shape the future.  Or more precisely, the power we hold to create our future, through innovation, thinking big, and acting small, while learning and improving as we go.

If you walk away with three new insights or distinctions on how you think about innovation, it’s a win.

Top 10 Innovation Quotes

  1. “All it takes is one idea to solve an impossible problem.” — Robert H. Schuller
  2. “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” — Howard Aiken
  3. “I failed my way to success.” — Thomas Edison
  4. “I want to put a ding in the universe.” –- Steve Jobs
  5. “In every work of genius, we recognize our once rejected thoughts.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  6. “Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” — John Emmerling
  7. “Never innovate to compete, innovate to change the rules of the game.“ — David O. Adeife
  8. “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” — Albert Einstein
  9. “There’s a way to do it better — find it.” — Thomas Edison
  10. They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

Action

Here are innovation quotes on action:

  • “Are you a serial idea-starting person? The goal is to be an idea-shipping person. “ – Seth Godin
  • “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” — Theodore Levitt
  • “Get a good idea, and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right.” — Walt Disney
  • “The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” –- Alfred North Whitehead
  • “Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices.” — L. Duncan
  • “Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form.”  — Watts Humprey
  • “It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.” — Anatole France
  • “Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling.” — Naveen Jain
  • “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.” — Rupert Murdoch
  • “To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.” – Anatole France
  • “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe
  • “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

Adoption, Acceptance, and Rejection

Here are innovation quotes on acceptance and rejection:

  • An age is called dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.” — James Michener
  • “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: What does happen is that the opponents gradually die out.” — Max Planck
  • “Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepare to see them misunderstood.” — H.L. Mencken
  • “Big ideas are little ideas that no-one killed too soon. “ – Seth Godin
  • “Faced with changing one’s mind, or proving that there is no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.” — John Kenneth Galbraith
  • “First a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim they themselves discovered it.” — William James
  • “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein
  • “He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator.” — Francis Bacon
  • “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.” — Harold Wilson
  • “I had a monumental idea this morning, but I didn’t like it.” — Samuel Goldwyn
  • “If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you.” — Carl Sagan
  • “New ideas pass through three periods: It can’t be done, It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing, and I knew it was a good idea all along.” — Arthur C. Clarke
  • “Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.” — Samuel Johnson
  • “Old ideas give way slowly; for they are more than abstract logical forms and categories. They are habits, predispositions, deeply ingrained attitudes of aversion and preference.” — John Dewey
  • “The best ideas lose their owners and take on lives of their own.” — Nolan Bushnell
  • “The man with a new idea is a crank – until the idea succeeds.” –- Mark Twain
  • “The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.” — Arthur Koestler
  • “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” — Jonathan Swift
  • “There has been opposition to every innovation in the history of man, with the possible exception of the sword.” – Benjamin Dana
  • “There is a natural opposition among men to anything they have not thought of themselves.” — Barnes Wallis
  • “There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.” — Victor Hugo
  • “There’s no correlation between how good your idea is and how likely your organization will be to embrace it.” – Seth Godin
  • “When people are least sure, they are often most dogmatic.” — John Kenneth Galbraith
  • “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” — Lee Iacocca

Birthing Ideas

Here are innovation quotes on birthing ideas:

  • “A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”  — Albert von Szent-Györgyi
  • “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” — Charles Brower
  • “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus
  • Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.” — Chuck Jones
  • “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” — Robert Wieder
  • “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” — Albert von Szent-Gyorgy
  • “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” – Picasso
  • “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck
  • “Ideas in secret die. They need light and air or they starve to death.” – Seth Godin
  • “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” — Rollo May
  • “If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted.  No one else can paint it.” — Gordon MacKenzie
  • “Innovation is serendipity, so you don’t know what people will make.” — Tim Berners Lee
  • “Innovation opportunities do not come with the tempest but with the rustling of the breeze.” — Peter Drucker
  • “Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” — William J. Cameron
  • “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.” — Emile Chartier
  • “The silly question is the first intimation of some totally new development.” — Alfred North Whitehead
  • “There is a vitality, a life force, that is translated to you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and will be lost.” — Martha Graham
  • “To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” — Thomas Edison
  • “We must not confuse distortion with innovation; distortion is useless change, art is beneficial change.” — Chuck Jones
  • “Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” — Carl Jung

Brilliance and Creativity

Here are innovation quotes on brilliance and creativity:

  • “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” – Charles Kettering
  • “Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.” — Edward de Bono
  • “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
  • “Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.” — James Russell Lowell
  • “Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • “Genius is infinite painstaking.” – Michelangelo
  • “Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” — Thomas Edison
  • “Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.” — William James
  • “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” –- Jonas Salk
  • “It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.” — Charles Peguy
  • “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence, nor imagination, nor both together, go to the making of genius. Love, Love, Love. That is the soul of genius.” –- Mozart
  • “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” — Dr. Linus Pauling
  • “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” — Carl Jung
  • “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “When we all think alike, then no one is thinking.“ — Walter Lippman

Continuous Learning and Growth

Here are innovation quotes on continuous learning and growth:

  • “Because, you know, resilience – if you think of it in terms of the Gold Rush, then you’d be pretty depressed right now because the last nugget of gold would be gone. But the good thing is, with innovation, there isn’t a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.” — Jeff Bezos
  • “Ideas are the engines of progress. They improve people’s lives by creating better ways to do things. They build and grow successful organizations and keep them healthy and prosperous. Without the ability to get new ideas, an organization stagnates and declines and will eventually be eliminated by competitors who do have fresh ideas.” — Alan Robinson and Dean Schroeder
  • “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” — George Bernard Shaw
  • “If you look historically, what creates growth and wealth is innovation and investment, and increase in scale – more customers.” — Frederick Smith
  • “Innovation accelerates and compounds. Each point in front of you is bigger than anything that ever happened.” — Marc Andreessen
  • “Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity.” — Michael Porter
  • “Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” — Peter Drucker
  • “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” — William Pollard
  • “Nothing is done. Everything in the world remains to be done or done over.” — Lincoln Steffens
  • “Our future growth relies on competitiveness and innovation, skills and productivity… and these in turn rely on the education of our people.” — Julia Gillard
  • “Small businesses are vital contributors to our economy. They are the economic engine that is creating jobs, exploring innovation, and expanding opportunities for Americans in every community across the Nation.” — Allyson Schwartz
  • “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.” – Demosthenes
  • “Technological innovation is indeed important to economic growth and the enhancement of human possibilities.” — Leon Kass
  • “The enterprise that does not innovate ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present, the decline will be fast.” — Peter Drucker
  • “There’s no good idea that cannot be improved on.” — Michael Eisner
  • “We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T. S. Eliot
  • “We’ve reached the end of incrementalism. Only those companies that are capable of creating industry revolutions will prosper in the new economy.” — Gary Hamel
  • “Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.” — Walt Disney
  • “Will you ever run out of creative ideas and expressions? Ha! The more creative ideas you have, the more you will discover.  Creativity is a tree with countless branches that never stop blossoming.” — Alan Cohen
  • “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” — William Pollard

Crazy By Design

Here are innovation quotes on how innovation means going off the beaten path:

  • “Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are just produced.” — A.N. Whitehead
  • “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” — Oscar Wilde
  • “Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.” — Frank Tyger
  • “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” — Albert Einstein
  • “No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered.” — Winston Churchill
  • “Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites.” — Carl Jung
  • “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” — George Bernard Shaw
  • “Whatever has happened in my quest for innovation has been part of my quest for immaculate reality.” — George Lucas
  • “When a true genius appear in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” — Jonathan Swift

Create the Future

Here are innovation quotes that reminds us that innovation is how we shape our future:

  • “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”  — Goethe
  • “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
  • “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

Culture of Innovation

Here are quotes on building a culture of innovation:

  • “After years of telling corporate citizens to ‘trust the system,’ many companies must relearn instead to trust their people – and encourage their people to use neglected creative capacities in order to tap the most potent economic stimulus of all: idea power.” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • “As competition intensifies, the need for creative thinking increases. It is no longer enough to do the same thing better . . . no longer enough to be efficient and solve problems.” — Edward de Bono
  • “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” — Peter Drucker
  • “Colleagues should take care of each other, have fun, celebrate success, learn by failure, look for reasons to praise not to criticize, communicate freely and respect each other.” — Richard Branson, Virgin Group
  • “Everyone has the ability to be creative.  Everyone has the ability to connect one idea with another, to find an idea in another department, organization, or industry, and connect it with another to solve the challenge at hand.” — Elaine Dundon
  • “Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” — William McKnight, 3M
  • “No organization ever created an innovation. People innovate, not companies.” – Seth Godin
  • “Organizations, by their very nature are designed to promote order and routine. They are inhospitable environments for innovation.” — Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School
  • “Play with your physical workplace in a way that sends positive “body language” to employees and visitors.” — Tom Kelley, IDEO
  • “The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction.” — Lawrence Mille
  • “The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.” — Michael E. Gerber
  • “The organizations of the future will increasingly depend on the creativity of their members to survive. Great Groups offer a new model in which the leader is an equal among Titans. In a truly creative collaboration, work is pleasure, and the only rules and procedures are those that advance the common cause.” — Warren Bennis
  • “The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” — Robert Iger
  • “The locus of corporate innovations has been product development. But in times of rapid and unpredictable change, the creation of individual products becomes less important than the creation of a general organizational aptitude for innovation.” — John Seely Brown, Xerox
  • “This notion that it is up to each person to innovation in some way flies in the face of the industrial age, but you know what, the industrial age is over.” – Seth Godin
  • “Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work.” — James Ogilvy
  • “What we’ve done to encourage innovation is make it ordinary.” — Craig Wynett, Proctor & Gamble
  • “We have come to think of art and work as incompatible, or at least independent categories and have for the first time in history created an industry without art.” — Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

Culture of Innovation at Apple

  • “But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.” — Steve Jobs
  • “Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, and poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.” — Steve Jobs
  • “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” — Steve Jobs

Culture of Innovation at Disney

  • “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney
  • “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” — Walt Disney
  • “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.” — Walt Disney

Culture of Innovation at Google

  • “At Google, operations are not just an afterthought: they are critical to the company’s success, and we want to have just as much effort and creativity in this domain as in new product development.” — Eric Schmidt, Google
  • “That’s how we’re going to stay innovative. We’re going to continue to attract entrepreneurs who say, ‘I found an idea, and I can go to Google and have a demo in a month and be launched in six.'” — Marissa Mayer, Google
  • “The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.” — Sergey Brin

Culture of Innovation at Microsoft

  • “Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved. Eliminate politics, by giving everybody the same message. Keep a flat organization in which all issues are discussed openly. Empower teams to do their own things.” — Bill Gates, Microsoft
  • “I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” — Bill Gates, Microsoft

Don’t Start from Scratch

Here are innovation quotes that remind us that we can pick up where others left off:

  • “Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.” — Mason Cooley
  • “Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” — George Knelle
  • “I start where the last man left off.” — Thomas Edison
  • “Swipe from the best, then adapt.” — Tom Peters
  • “To be creative you have to contribute something different from what you’ve done before. Your results need not be original to the world; few results truly meet that criterion. In fact, most results are built on the work of others.” — Lynne C. Levesque

Fear and Failure

Here are innovation quotes on fear and failure:

  • “99 percent of success is built on failure.” — Charles Kettering
  • “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of old ones.“ — John Cage
  • “If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.” — Alfred Noble
  • “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” — Edward de Bono
  • “Pure innovation is more gross than error.” — George Chapman
  • “Success is on the far side of failure.” — Thomas Watson Sr.
  • “The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” — Edwin H. Land
  • “The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.”  — Vincent Van Gogh
  • “The things we fear most in organizations — fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances — are the primary sources of creativity.” — Margaret J. Wheatley
  • “The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” – Thomas Watson, Founder of IBM
  • “Where do you put the fear when you choose to innovate? The fear is there, but you have to find a place to put it.” — Seth Godin
  • “You can only be as good as you dare to be bad.” — John Barrymore
  • “You can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.” – Seth Godin
  • “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” — Andre Gide

Limitations, Rules, and Constraints

Here are innovation quotes on breaking the rules and finding breakthroughs:

  • “All human development, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise we would never have anything new.” — Charles Kettering
  • “Don’t be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” — David Lloyd George
  • “I am looking for a lot of people who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” — Henry Ford
  • “I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.” — Jeff Bezos
  • “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” — Albert Einstein
  • “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” — Charles Kettering
  • “Innovation is this amazing intersection between someone’s imagination and the reality in which they live. The problem is, many companies don’t have great imagination, but their view of reality tells them that it’s impossible to do what they imagine.” — Ron Johnson
  • “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”  — Albert Einstein
  • “It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” — Roger von Oech
  • “Lack of money is not obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle.” — Ken Hakuta
  • “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • “Necessity is the mother of invention.” – Anonymous
  • “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” — General George Patton
  • “Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview – nothing more constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to novelty.” — Stephen Jay Gould
  • “Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future.” — James Bertrand
  • “One of the challenges of innovation is figuring out how to wipe your mind clean about what you should be doing at any given moment, and not having a religious attachment to what’s gotten you there thus far.” — Andrew Mason
  • “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda
  • “The impossible is often the untried.” — Jim Goodwin
  • “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” — Arthur C. Clarke
  • “There are no old roads to new directions.” — The Boston Consulting Group
  • “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” — Edward de Bono
  • “To gain customer insights, we must understand that we are prisoners of what we know and what we believe.” — Mohanbir Sawhney
  • “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” — Albert Einstein
  • “We cannot solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  — Albert Einstein
  • “We have approximately 60,000 thoughts in a day. Unfortunately, 95% of them are thoughts we had the day before.” – Deepak Chopra
  • “You don’t understand anything unless you understand there are at least 3 ways.” — M. Minsky
  • “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Vision, Imagination, and Mindset

Here are innovation quotes on how to groom and grow a creative mind:

  • “A creative mindset is in increasingly high demand: employers are vying for workers who are able to dream big and deliver big with the next must-have product. Creative thinking fuels innovation, it leads to new goods and services, creates jobs and delivers substantial economic rewards.” — Jim Hunt
  • “A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.” — Antoine Saint-Exupery
  • “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things” — Stephen Covey
  • “Big thinking precedes great achievement.“ — Wilferd Peterson
  • “Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.” – Mencius
  • “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” — Henry Ford
  • “If you do not the expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” – Heraclitus
  • “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki
  • “Innovation comes from the producer – not from the customer.” — W. Edwards Deming
  • “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs
  • “Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?” — Robert Kennedy
  • “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” — Thomas Edison
  • “The best vision is insight.” — Malcolm Forbes
  • “The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen.” — Carl Ally
  • “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
  • “The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child.” — Thomas Edison
  • “The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.” — Stephen Nachmanovitch
  • “The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” — Anthony Jay
  • “The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” — Henry David Thoreau
  • “Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.“ — Jonathan Swift
  • “What is now proved was once only imagined.” – William Blake

Key Takeway

Innovation is the key to growth.  Innovation is also the key to solving big challenges, whether it’s the economy, healthcare, or education.  Innovation is how you survive and thrive in the marketplace.  Innovation is how you get a little better, each day, whether you’re adopting new habits, or changing old ones.

As we learn from the wisdom of the ages, the value of innovation is not just having ideas.  It’s turning ideas into action.

We also learn that innovation comes from a variety of sources, and in a variety of ways.  Sometimes it’s looking up the clouds and dreaming big.  And, sometimes it’s just looking at something everyday in a slightly new way.

Perhaps the most important thing we learn is how fear and failure to embrace change can hold us back.  As the saying goes, what you don’t know can hurt you.   Maybe, it’s what you don’t do, can hurt you more.  After all, Darwin taught us that nature favors the flexible.  That’s a kinder way of saying, adapt or die.

Have I missed your favorite quote on innovation?  Be sure to let me know.

Image by Nisha A.

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8 Comments on "Innovation Quotes"

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  1. Alik Levin says:

    Thomas Edison is the best… HAHAHA!! “I failed my way to success.” – this is awesome :D

    Oh… this one is useful too “Success is on the far side of failure.”

    • JD says:

      He really makes failure out to be a good thing. And, he reminds us that failing is part of the game of success.

  2. seth godin says:

    Thanks for a great list, JD!

  3. Galen Pearl says:

    Wow, what a treasure trove! I like Walt Disney’s idea of staying open with curiosity. When I stay curious instead of jumping to judgment, I see all kinds of things I would not have seen otherwise.

    • JD says:

      Thank you. Just like optimism or pessimism is a choice, so is curious or critical. Disney did the world a bunch of good.

  4. Viv says:

    Thanks for compiling these quotes and nicely categorizing them. One quote I live by is “There is no failure, only feedback.”

    • JD says:

      That’s a quote I live by, too. It makes all the difference in the world.

      The only way to fail is to give up. And then, the key is to quit with skill (which Seth Godin teaches us in The Dip.)