Inspiring innovation

"Our goal...to put more innovation in the hands of more people, so they can do more amazing things." We've all read these messages featured prominently in Lenovo advertisements and promotions, and we've seen the innovation demonstrated in Lenovo products (see video embedded below), but how is innovation inspired?

Innovation flows from the people, pervades the culture, and is expressed in the environment. It is this last point that I want to focus on today, because I believe that we are influenced by our surroundings. On each floor of our buildings, a different colorful and thought provoking quote greets employees and guests as they disembark the elevators.

third floor

The third floor reads "Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises."

Each day, the second floor greets me with John F Kennedy's inspirational challenge to the status quo:

"There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

I find this one especially meaningful, as it speaks to the courage to undertake change, to risk bold steps for a better and brighter tomorrow. It's appealing to me and I find it motivates me to take on the more challenging issues today, rather than comfortably deferring them until later. Having honest dialog with our customers via our blogs and forums feels risky sometimes, but I believe ultimately the mutual understanding created will benefit both Lenovo and our customers.

Passing a few moments before entering a conference room, my eye is drawn to the lithographic plaque affixed to the frosted glass wall next to the door. Each room's plaque features a different person of significance. The facts and circumstances of their greatness are clearly outlined, but each also provokes further thought, sparking inspiration and innovation. For example:

Hedy Lamarr

Aparantly, Hedy was an actress who also happened to dabble in spread spectrum technology, specifically code division multiple access, or CDMA which later became the basis for cell telephone and wireless network access. Along with the help of a neighbor, these principles were purportedly worked out in the garage. Many companies were founded on great ideas born in humble locations. From this I conclude that innovative ideas may come from anywhere - one doesn't have to be solely a scientist or engineer by formal position in order to produce an innovative idea which in time may become something far larger and more foundational than what was originally envisioned or intended. Small breakthroughs today may become the basis for revolutionary thinking tomorrow. Opportunity is all around us, to develop new technology, new ways of connecting people, new innovation that leads to things we haven't even imagined...