Mental Growth Spurts of Innovation

As a parent, you can usually tell when your children are about to have a growth spurt - maybe some body changes such as their face getting rounder, and they begin to eat more than usual.Notice how the body doesnÕt just keep growing at a constant rate throughout childhood but instead does it in spurts? Motor (physical), Fine Motor (small physical movement), Social Emotional (interaction through to imaginative play), Communication and Sensory development all canÕt happen at once because of the energy and toll it takes on the body and mind.I find my own children sleep longer and more soundly during their growth spurts.


The mental aspects of innovation growth much like the growth of a child canÕt all happen at once and will likely see the up and down waves over time - even as quickly as weekly cycles depending on how it relates to the frequency of those around you at work or school or life being in the throws of whatever project or situation warrants the upward waves of energy.I see there being two phases, in the thick of it, and then not.

  1. The quiet time.This is when we are trying to take in as much as we can, much like the child eating more in preparation of growing.There is more time to investigate new things, learn new things, and prepare for what is to come. These days, this phase is becoming difficult to cope with for many people - with the feeling that they arenÕt working as hard or as much as when a growth spurt happens.
  2. The growth spurt.This may be when you have a school or work project due, or a busy time at your work due to holidays or special events.Sometimes the result of acting out of fear, though lets home not, and that itÕs instead part of your regular innovation cycle like we teach in Innovation Engineering.YouÕre less likely to have the time or energy to put system wide changes in place, or learn grand new things to assist in the future - but more likely learning those things which help in the here and now, or implementing items from the quiet time.The growth spurt is likely when you also grow the most as an employee, leader or manager as you often have to take steps and make decisions quicker and with less concrete knowledge backing them.

In research and development, this up and down is used to our advantage.  Teams will do a "sprint" together to further the development of one particular aspect of the project.  The benefit is having everyoneÕs growth spurts coincide to share the energy. When everyone is having a growth spurt at different times, frustration can occur when the focus between team members is in different places.

Let Innovation Engineering help you manage your development cycle to ensure the ultimate growth spurt of your company!