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Today we are honored to have Saul Garlick as our guest blogger for our “How I Innovate” series.  Saul is President and Chief Executive Officer of Think Impact Company, a global social enterprise based in Denver, Colorado with offices in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa.  Saul first founded ThinkImpact, a non-profit predecessor to the company as a high school student.  His remarks follow.

Innovation is at the nexus of two radically different cultures. I innovate by working through a process that brings different perspectives and experiences together to identify remarkable opportunities. I think that there are a few key principles that help me innovate no matter where I am or what I am working on, they are:

  1. People are people everywhere. I strongly believe in the fundamental similarities between people no matter their race, geography, religion or favorite sport. Nothing distinguishes humans from another at our core. Innovation should be human centered and should never ignore the individual who would use the innovation on a daily basis. After all, innovation is about improvement, and if people don’t feel motivated to use something, there won’t be much in the way of improvement!
  2. Innovate around experiences. At ThinkImpact, my company, we talk a lot about experiential education. We think that there is enormous potential for people to learn remarkable new habits, skills and perspectives by being through into the mix. However, to do this right, one must also focus on the experience that another individual would have, and find the adjustments and innovations possible around the experiences themselves.
  3. It’s about the opportunity, not the challenge. I take a glass half full approach on what’s possible. Being negative or destructive is inherently the opposite of productive innovation. The biggest difference in the world will be made by the individual who wakes up every day and says, with all that I have, what can I do? In every challenge or constraint there are dozens of opportunities and assets available to me.

Of course, as an entrepreneur, I strongly advocate for just giving something a try. But if you follow the principles above, you will always end up at a better place.

Thanks Saul!  We truly appreciate you sharing those principles and all the amazing work you do!

Saul’s post made me wonder how do we help our students practice and apply these principles to create innovative solutions to the complex problems of the 21st Century.  Let us know your thoughts on this question!