My grandfather was probably the most innovative person I knew.
You wouldn't know it by going to his house. Or walking down to his basement. Or taking a quick glance at his garage or tool shed. Those places wouldn't radiate innovation - at least the way we typically define innovation today.
Still, I would consider him the most innovative person I knew. Why?
He could hack and fix almost anything. His solutions were rarely high-tech but they were brilliantly simple. Grandaddy was born in a small town in Kentucky during the Depression and spent most of his life figuring out ways to do as much as he could with as little as possible.
Instead of buying a new microwave, he found out which spot on the microwave worked, taped a piece of green felt on that corner of the door so people knew to push that after they hit "start" for the microwave to work.
He would apply that to fishing, coming up with clever fish attraction contraptions that proved their worth by the dozens of fish we would catch on the lake (not a "fishing" story....we really caught 36 one morning).
There are countless stories of various things he hacked together throughout his life. Things that most people would count out as ever working that he could make function. He applied that innovation at his job at GE, being credited with several patents for washers and dryers throughout his career there.
Our View of Innovation is Too Narrow
Today, when we discuss innovation, we tend to limit that term to a technology bubble. We think of things like virtual reality, social networks and new gadgets. Our minds take us to offices that create those spaces - minimalistic spaces with tablets, ping pong tables and trendy furniture. Just flipping through the pages of Fast Company's latest "Most Innovative Companies" has a massive tech/social appeal.
I'm not discounting anything in technology. Part of my livelihood is built on having a strong technology background. I'm a nerd. If I could afford it, I'd buy every new gadget, wearable and smart _____ that comes out. Most of our biggest innovations of recent days have been technology based - and I love it.
However, innovation isn't limited to just technology. Innovation isn't always a high budget affair. It rarely is. It's doing something old in a completely new way. That often comes with constrained resources. Innovation doesn't have to always be flashy. But a lack of flash shouldn't be confused with a lack of impressiveness.
Sometimes the most innovative work is done in a 50+ year old dusty tool shed by a guy wearing an old greasy shirt, suspenders and blue jeans.
What are some of the most innovative ideas you've seen in areas you wouldn't expect?