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The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

What does it take to spark an idea?

The notion of a spark is a very simple thing. A spark is the most insignificant of fires. It is instantaneous, beginning from the weakest of ignitions, erupting with Almighty force, and then, rapidly exhausted. But, the tiniest of sparks can powerfully cascade outward to create a raging infernal, and explode into something rather magnificent. Something far grander than the minuscule flicker that begins the rapid combustion.

Innovation in our world works the same way. Sometimes the pace is not as formidable, but over time, the result is the same.

What does it take to spark ideas? What steps are essential for creativity? Can anyone do it? Yes, yes, and yes.

Step 1: Collect your assets. Gather all of the ingredients that you have into one proverbial place. Often, this first step is harder than you might imagine. People often sit and wait for inspiration to hit. Rarely does it work that way. It does not hit you. It takes hard work. You must pursue ideas. You hunt them down. You need to assess exactly what assets you have to leverage to stir them together in the pot, experimenting as you go to refine the balance and blend of assets to the exact proportions to cook up the best outcomes.

Step 2: Understand the problem. Take some time to examine the problem that you wish to resolve. Too often people jump to the solution first, before they truly know the problem. Of course, it is far more fun to solve a problem then stew over your issues. But, you must deeply understand your problem first, before you can dream up creative solutions.

Step 3: Processing your Assets. Once you have gathered your assets, you must look at them closely and examine exactly what you have before you. Look at them in new and different ways. How do these assets relate to the problem? What do they contribute to the problem’s resolution, in whole or in part. What if they were combined in new and novel ways, do they change the equation then? Consider how they mix or do not mix. It is like a puzzle that needs to be solved. Again, it is hard work. You must be truthful. You are looking for the combinations that result in more than the sum of the parts.

Step 4: Forget about it all. Once you have spent the time and nearly exhausted every avenue. Put it all away. Step away from it all. Go for a walk in the radiant sunshine. Look at trees and nature. Read a book. Clear your mind completely of the problem. It is a time to reset and zero out your thinking. A clear mind is wide open for new thoughts.

Step 5: The epiphany strikes. Be ready. It can strike you when you least expect it. In the shower in the morning. Off while doing something else, like playing with your kids in a playground. You need to be able to make a record by jotting it down on a piece of paper, writing in a notebook, or recording the sound bite on your smartphone. You need to capture the awaking of thought. These moments of enlightenment are the sparks. And, like the spark, they flash for just a moment. But, the force of the spark can spawn an amazing inferno of cascading processes. You must be ready.

Step 6: Collaboration with reality. Like a spark, a grand idea possesses explosive possibilities. But, just like you need to fan the coals to have the spark ignite the fire, you need collaboration to push the spark to the next level. You must share your ideas. Seek input from others to allow them to slowly burn brighter. Your spark can lit sparks in others. You can exponentially grow your fire’s force when it is in a setting that is conducive to combustion fueled with the kindling from others. The inflammatory capabilities of your core ignition are dramatically amplified when collaboration exists.

So often I hear complaints from friends and business colleagues of how others win and it all seems to be so easy for them. Why is it so hard for me?

The quick answer is the innovation requires engagement. Taking ownership of your issues and wrestling them to submission. If you do not commit to seek resolutions, then nothing will happen – ever. You must own the problem. Then, you apply persistence, perseverance, unyielding focus, dedication, and a superior work ethic. Simple really. Being creative is really hard work. There is no easy path towards success. Those whom you idolize put in the work efforts to see their desired results. They are not lucky. They earn their outcomes. There are no shortcuts. Sorry.

Entrepreneurs and leaders, technology innovators, and business inventors, can turn the smallest sparks into roaring bonfires. Take chances. Be bold. Change the world. Think of the potential impact if you generate fresh ideas, nurture them, look at them from different angles, and, most importantly, share them with others.

————————–MJM ————————–


Siegel, R. S. (2013). How to Spark Great Ideas: 5 Steps. Inc., Mansueto Ventures. Retrieved on March 27, 2021 from,

————————–MJM ————————–

About the Author:

Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).  He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.  He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 20 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.