Who Has Creative and Innovative Ideas? The Answers May Surprise You

Creative and innovative ideas can come from anyone. Many organizational leaders fail to use a valuable resource – the intellect and experiences of their employees. Let’s look at a few past examples where creative and innovative ideas came from “unexpected” sources. Let’s learn from these examples.

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind lived from 1920 to 1958 in England. She is now renowned for her scientific work in the areas of X-ray and DNA technology. At that time, many thought the role of women should be limited to the home or social work. Some thought that science and business should be roles for men only. For that time, Rosalind was an “unexpected” source of creative and innovative ideas.

Read more about Rosalind

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson

Hidden-Figures-CoverTheir story is told in the book, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly. The movie, Hidden Figures, was based on this book. The story is set in the 1960’s. A time of segregation. A time when many thought such work should be left to men, white men in particular. For that time, these three women were an “unexpected” source of creative and innovative ideas.

Guillermo Gonzales Camarena

According to this article from Early Television, Guillermo was instrumental in the development of color television. He was born in 1917 and began experimenting with mechanical television in 1935. That means he was 18 years old when he began his experiments. This young person was probably another “unexpected” source of creative and innovative ideas.

The Present

We could curate many more examples from the past, but what about the present? As a leader, do you believe that creative and innovative ideas can only come from you? Do you believe that great ideas can only come from people with college degrees and lots of experience?

As you move to improve your business processes and solve other problems, we encourage you to seek ideas from “unexpected” sources. Perhaps your employees from the Gen Y or Gen Z generations. Perhaps your front-line employees. Perhaps people outside your department or organization. These people have different perspectives and experiences which can help you think and do outside the box.


We would be honored if you read our article on Leadership Across Generations.

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Written by guest writer Greg Conder of Conder Business Solutions