Shira White interviewed more than 100 highly creative thinkers, many of them in the corporate world, for her latest book, New Ideas About New Ideas (Perseus Publishing). She says if there's a common denominator among innovative entrepreneurs, it's this: "They tend to have creative lives, even when they're out of the office."
Reiman does. He is an adjunct business professor at Emory University, where he finds many--but not all--of his illuminaries. He's into yoga. He has horses in the barn near his house. In college, he studied and worked for Italian film director Federico Fellini. A voracious reader, he often hands out business books to his staff. But mostly, he looks at the world through multicolored glasses. Even brainstorming isn't brainstorming. He calls it "heartstorming."
When BrightHouse ideates, Reiman has one guiding principle: Think with your heart as much as your mind. "If you can actually impact the world, make a dent in the universe, do something that resonates with the hearts around the world, the profits will come," promises Reiman. "It sounds high-flying, and it is. It's soaring."
Much of it comes down to caring for the customer, which isn't all that innovative. Or is it? "Considering what's happened with 9/11, Anderson, the Archdiocese, Enron--the world is a lot more cynical," says Reiman. "People are looking for beacons to lead them, and if companies can really identify and articulate their core purposes, people will follow." That's why we remember Henry Ford today, and why people in the 22nd century will be talking about Bill Gates.
But if nothing had been invented after 1899, there would have been no Ford or Gates, and we would have been stuck on the edge of greatness. Our movies would still be grainy black and white, and Henry Ford wouldn't have created a car everybody could afford. Ford understood what Reiman says is a valve at the heart of innovation: "It's not just about coming up with new products. It's about understanding culture, and even something as large as a country."
Indeed, that's why Reiman always asks his clients: If your company were gone tomorrow, what would the world lose? And their answer had better be focused and nothing less than profound. "History only has room for one sentence," Reiman likes to tell his clients. He pauses and then asks: "What's your sentence?"
|A Fierce Case of Innovation|
Geoff Williams is known around the world for being an icon of innovation, a creative god, and the man Steven Spielberg and Stephen Hawking turn to when they need inspiration. This is the last time we let him write his own biographical notes.
- Brighthouse LLC
(404) 720-1007, email@example.com
- Creative Realities Inc.
(800) 446-2210, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nucifora Consulting Group
(770) 952-2112, www.nucifora.com
- Traction Plus
(817) 685-7184, email@example.com
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.