Fueling Innovation

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    January 20, 2015

Fueling Innovation


Creativity and innovation are two sides of the same coin. You can't be innovative without creativity. And a brilliant idea will never be more than a brilliant idea unless it is put into action. By fostering creative ideas and embracing an innovation process that puts good ideas to work, organizations can move from creativity to innovation - to solve problems, big and small.

Earlier this year, I had the honor of being named the first Innovator-in-Residence at Charlotte's McColl Center for Art + Innovation. I spent my time engaging with artists from around the world who were also participating in the residency, and discussing big ideas with fellow business leaders in fields ranging from the arts to energy to education. I have been asking "What if?" as I work to connect business, cultural and arts community leaders in conversations around the importance of fueling innovation and creativity to create a vibrant and flourishing community.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks from the McColl Center, Wray Ward's parking lot is playing host to a city-led construction project to replace the storm drains along McDowell and Morehead Streets. Throughout the projected four-month period of this project, there will be disruption. There will be noise. And we will have to adapt.

In my role as a business leader and community advocate, I have been asked to help creatively solve problems in order to build better brands, businesses and organizations. I have learned that inspiration can come from anywhere. A necessary four-month construction project - one that has the ability to cause a fair amount of disruption to our day-to-day operations - sparked a simple idea that I hope will spark many ideas in the coming months.

DISRUPTION fuels innovation.

Disruption is change. Getting out of your comfort zone can ignite the most creative ideas - that's one thing I learned during my six weeks away. What happens when you hold a brainstorm session in a park instead of the conference room? What perspective can you gain by bringing in artists to collaborate on a typical left-brained project? How might your outlook change if you decide to take the scenic route home?

To start a conversation about innovation within our own four walls, we've displayed a banner on the fence surrounding the storm drain construction site. The words "Disruption Fuels Innovation" are printed in bold white letters on an orange background. As Wray Ward employees and guests enter the parking lot, they are challenged to take a problem, turn it into the next big idea and then put that idea to work.


What fuels innovation? Conversations around the water cooler? Late nights? Early mornings? More time away from the office? More time in the office? We are asking our friends and partners, Charlotte businesses and individuals to tell us what they think fuels innovation. Let's continue the conversation about creativity and innovation in Charlotte and beyond, share our ideas and encourage each other to think outside the box to create meaningful solutions in our workplaces, our homes and our communities.

Tell us or show us how you innovate on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by using the hashtag #HowWeInnovate. What fuels you? We want to know.

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