We hear a lot about creative thinking, but what does that really mean? Lebanese startup Innovo has one idea.
The Lebanese engineering startup, which designs hardware gadgets for clients such as Lebanese telecom touch, Beirut kids’ entertainment park Kidzmondo, and Emirati telecom Du, has developed a unique working style that fosters creativity, by favoring thinking with a fresh perspective and experimentation. That’s what they define as creative thinking.
With this mindset, Innovo has developed a few unique products like a Du vending machine that received tweets from visitors of the Gitex Exhibition in Dubai, processed them, selected winners, and dispensed the gift automatically, or a robot controlled through Microsoft’s XBox Kinect, or child-friendly petrol pump that children from the age of three can use to fill up their ‘cars’ at Kidzmondo.
Kidzmondo's petrol pump
Innovo, which works from Beirut Digital District and is partly owned by digital media umbrella group DNY (which also owns Cleartag and Sociatag), is getting so much traction that the team could grow from one employee today to 10-15 employees by the end of 2014, according to DNY’s CEO Tarek Dajani.
Innovo founder Jad Berro agreed to share some of his secrets on how to think creatively.
- Work on side projects
Berro, and his only colleague, Ihab Hajj, split their time between contract work, which accounts for 70 to 80 percent of their time, and side projects. Why waste time on personal projects, some would ask? Well that’s when the two inventors come up with their more disruptive inventions. Freedom and fun lead to interesting innovations that, while not necessarily answering any specific immediate need, may be recycled later for their main business.
Robots controlled through Microsoft’s XBox Kinect
- Spend time researching
“Research plays an important role in shaping creativity,” explains Berro. A lot of his free time is dedicated to research, and staying up to date on new technology, components, and manufacturing. “If you don't know about it, how would you know that it's possible?” he asks.
- Listen up
You should try to put yourself in the shoes of your clients in order to truly understand their problems, which you generally don’t personally face, believes Berro. It’s all about being a good listener and analytical thinker, he says.
“No one is born a creative thinker,” says Berro. For him, there’s no secret formula for creativity: “if you iterate on a certain idea long enough, chances are you will figure something out.” Creative thinking comes from “the sweat of research and prior experiences,” argues the inventor.
- Go outside of your field
The Lebanese founder has a lot of respect for craftsmen and repairmen, whether electricians, carpenters, or metal workers, because they know how to come to simple yet creative solutions. “I always monitor and learn a lot of tricks from these guys,” he says. But Berro goes the extra mile, actually going to talk with them about his problems, arguing that “a constructive argument with someone from another discipline, who surely sees everything from a different perspective, can often [...] show me different solutions and ideas.”