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Innovation does not happen in your office

The more I work in an office the more I realize my imagination or prediction of events that could be coming down the road diminishes... (PS - I don't think anyone should say they can predict). When is the last time someone invented something incredible from their office cube? Like a new laser beam or technology.


When is the last time a financial analyst predicted the sales or costs on what your company was going to experience on their excel spreadsheet?


How about the five year forecast that some "strategic team" is working on that will predict the future? How are those predictions going...

Read the classic book 1984 by George Orwell. Orwell wrote the book in the 1940s attempting to predict what life would be like in 1984. Eye opening. Many events and technologies have taken place that the book did not predict. But I digress...

I know I cannot forecast. I can't even predict my water bill for next month and I also don't believe most forecasters, economists, marketers, etc. in corporate America can forecast.

When someone forecasts it starts with one number that gets thrown on a white board, then someone else throws their number on the white board which is close to the other person's number but nobody knows if the first number is true. The problem is nobody expects the curveballs, catastrophes or scandals. They think their forecast obeys the laws of spreadsheets and powerpoints.

Most predictions and changes come when people are not sitting in their cube or conference room. Steve Jobs traveled the world and dropped LSD and came up with the idea of the Mac computer. Jobs was not showing up to work at 8AM with his coffee mug, newspaper and 34 new emails. No, he discovered the computer on accident while dropping LSD, not at his cube.

I am not saying you need to drop LSD. That drug will catch up with you, but if you do drop some - invent something big the world can use like a new iPhone or something. Too many people assess someone based on their ability to stay in an office chair longer than anyone else. Prolonged sitting is bad for your ass. I speak from experience. On the sitting part that is. Just know you will not be thinking of anything innovative while sitting at your desk.

Talk to people in different industries, walk in the park, ride a bike, work at a different place, plant a garden, team up with three smart people in your office, start a side job. Do something that takes your mind off your same task and you will see a different side to your work.

Working in your same circle of people in the same cube space or office is like only reading the books on one side of the library. There is a whole different side of the library and other floors too. Go up to the 4th floor and check out the history books. Read the old science books on the 2nd floor. Check out the other side of the library. There is another side to the world. Get curious.

Innovation in the workplace is usually described by some lame value on your website or office wall. Beyond that there is little done about innovation because innovation comes through serendipity. Smart people (this can be anyone) discover something they were not looking for...Reference how the "Post It Note" was discovered.

If living a day like this scares you then perhaps you are being "innovative" or just cooler than me. Probably both.