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Give yourself one hour a week to think

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Gaining creative insights doesn’t re­­quire taking off for an ashram, as Steve Jobs once famously did. But it does require preparation and application.

Nurturing creativity that leads to in­­novative breakthroughs has never been more critical. A recent study by international business school INSEAD ranked the U.S. seventh in innovation, behind Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland and Denmark.

Creativity guru Todd Henry recommends that executives set aside one hour a week to generate new ideas—“one hour, predictably scheduled, no exceptions and no violations,” Henry writes in his book, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. It’s not a time to work, but a time to think about work.

Your reaction may be, “Sit around and think? Who has the time?”

But in a wired world, innovative thinking requires spending time ­pondering and processing, rather than constantly responding.

Another study and resulting book, The Innovator’s DNA—conducted by professors Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, of the Marriott School at Brigham Young University and INSEAD, respectively, and Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School—found that innovators must act differently to think differently.

One consistent habit of innovators: gathering a wide range of seemingly un­­­­related experiences. For example, Jobs has experimented with everything from living in an ashram to meditating to taking calligraphy—all of which triggered ideas for Apple products.

“Creativity is connecting things,” Jobs once said.

Bottom line: Groundbreaking ideas require patience and painstaking preparation.

— Adapted from “How great business innovators are made (not born),” Anne Fisher, Fortune.

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