5 Must-Watch TED Talks to Inspire Your Innovation Team

These talks can inspire innovation.

Open innovation can be a tricky business. Innovation can be elusive, and sometimes your team needs a push to get back in the zone. If that’s the case, sit down with these TED talks to get that spark back.

Navi Radjou

“Necessity is the mother of invention” is a old adage about innovation, but it’s not one we often think about. Radjou, however, has seen it in action. In his talk on “jugaad,” the Hindu word for improvised solutions, he spins out how flexible thinking and focusing on what you have, not what you do, can allow you to innovate. Especially when you’re dealing with a limited budget, or feel frustrated with your progress, this talk can shift your perspective.

Charles Leadbeater

One of the misperceptions about innovation is that major new products and new markets leap fully formed from the mind of one brilliant innovator. Leadbeater shows that’s not the case by exploring the history of the mountain bike. It started out not as a new product from the top cycle manufacturers, but a jury-rigged, de facto crowdsourced effort by California bikers frustrated with bikes that fell apart on trails, and invented widely scorned “clunkers” to get over tough mountain trails. Leadbeater reminds us that innovation doesn’t rise from one mind, but many working in collaboration to find solutions to mutual problems.

Amy Tan

Every novelist gets the question of “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of them scoff at it as an amateur question from a novice writer, but Tan, while discussing the flawed premise in the question, takes a strong and incisive look at her own creative process and how it’s changed, and hasn’t, over the years. Much of what Tan discusses when it comes to creativity, and how it comes from surprising places, is both an inspiration and a reminder that how we innovate is a unique process for each of us — and figuring out those processes is ironically part of creativity itself.

Get your innovative juices flowing with these talks!

Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley undeniably is the master of the catchy title (We’ll let you discover the title of this talk for yourself.) But underneath the base appeal, Ridley is really talking about how innovation doesn’t happen in the absence of other ideas, but often in the presence of another one. Instead of looking at each piece individually, Ridley encourages innovators to examine their ideas in context and see what happens when they mix and match. At the very least you find yourself with a clever title.

Kirby Ferguson

With innovation, it’s easy to get stuck on the concept of creating a wholly original idea. Kirby Ferguson, though, argues that you should let that belief and instead accept that everything we do, from our simplest concepts, is really a “remix,” building on the ideas that have come before that we’ve absorbed and that we reconfigure, twist and redesign into our own unique takes. Kirby calls it embracing the remix, and it’s a challenge to anybody who thinks that an idea isn’t “original” enough to be worth considering.

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