25 Inspiring Innovation Quotes

Gijs van Wulfen shares 25 of his favorite motivational quotes to jump start innovation. Do you have more?

In my daily work as a facilitator of the FORTH innovation method I often use innovation quotes. Why? I found out that quotes really inspire people. They give new insights. And motivate people to go beyond their borders. That’s why I like to share with you 25 inspiring quotes to jump start innovation.

1. “Innovation is anything, but business as usual.” (Anonymous).

2. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman”. (David Ogilvy).

3. “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” (A. Einstein).

4. “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” (A. Warhol).

5. “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).

6. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” (Alan Kay).

7. “There are no old roads to new directions.” (Advertisement of the Boston Consulting Group).

8. “Nothing is stronger than habit.” (Ovid).

9. “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” (A. Einstein).

10. “Organizations, by their very nature are designed to promote order and routine. They are inhospitable environments for innovation.” (T. Levitt).

11. “It’s tough when markets change and your people within the company don’t.” (Harvard Business Review).

12. “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” (Goethe).

13. “What we’ve done to encourage innovation is make it ordinary.” (C. Wynett, Procter & Gamble).

14. “To gain customer insights, we must understand that we are prisoners of what we know and what we believe”. (Mohanbir Sawhney).

15. “He who ask a question is a fool for 5 minutes. He who does not ask a question remains a fool for ever.” (China)

16. “A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” (A. von Szent-Gyorgyi).

17. “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises”. (Demosthenes).

18. “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  (Anonymous).

19. “People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year, people who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year” (Peter Drucker).

20. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (R. Emerson).

21. “The impossible is often the untried.” (J. Goodwin).

22. “Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.” (Tao Te Ching).

23. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” (D. Adams).

24. “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow” (Rupert Murdoch).

25. “The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.” (Vincent Van Gogh).

I hope these quotes inspire you. Do you like more tips, formats and checklists to jump start innovation? You can download thirteen free checklists of the FORTH innovation method here. Do you have other innovation quotes you like to share? Please add them!

About the author:

Gijs van Wulfen (The Netherlands, 1960) is the founder of the FORTH innovation method. FORTH is an effective and structured method for ideating innovative products and services. The method is published in his inspiring and practical book Creating Innovative Products and Services’ (Gower, 2011).

He helps organisations to kick start innovation by facilitating the FORTH innovation method and advising companies on their innovation strategy, process and organisation. His clients are international companies in industry and services, as well as non-profit organisations in government and health. Gijs also trains facilitators in his method. His dream is to make FORTH the most used method for the front end of innovation around the world.

Gijs is a both presenter and chairman at several (international) innovation conferences, like the ISPIM Conferences and the European Conference on Creativity and Innovation. He is also founder of the yearly Dutch Innovation Conference on creating new products: ‘Nieuwe Producten Bedenken’.
  • http://twitter.com/regenman Monze Rouwe

    Food for thinking…

  • http://www.brightsparksinnovation.com Nello

    1. Always a classic: “If I had asked what people wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’.” Henry Ford.
    2. ‘If at first, the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it.’ Albert Einstein.
    3. ‘Come to the edge. We might fall. Come to the edge. It’s too high! Come to the edge! And they came, and he pushed…… and they flew.’ Christopher Logue.
    4. ‘When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger’. Chinese proverb.

  • http://www.brightsparksinnovation.com Nello

    Apologies, I repeated AE’s one. Here’s another to replace it! “If you can dream it, you can do it”. Walt Disney.

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  • B Berkhout

    Invention is how to turn money into knowledge, innovation is how to turn knowledge into money

  • Scott

    Don’t kow whos quote this is – but I love it!

    ” Discovery is seeing what everybody else sees and thinking what no one else does”


  • Judy Dick

    All of them are inspirational quotes. There’s one I do love and it’s this:
    When you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Napoleon Hill.
    Thank you for sharing on Linked in.

  • Niall MacLoughlin

    Chance favours the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur
    Chance favours the connected mind – Steven Johnson

  • http://www.facebook.com/anet.redmer Anet Redmer

    This quote is my favourite, too. It is from Nobel prize winner and physiologist Albert von Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt.

  • m barr

    Dies in the world except, the memory you leave in the mind of others -Napoleon

  • http://twitter.com/GijsvanSon Gijs van Son

    “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
    – Charles Darwin

  • Gilo

    My favorite of all times

    Celebrate life !!!

    Everything else will follow…

  • Jacqui

    “The person who
    says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”

  • http://twitter.com/InnovationExec Amy Radin

    Why companies must innovate now is well captured in Einstein’s definition of insanity … doing the same thing and expecting a different result

  • Patrik Marien

    If you have nothing, you’re able to create anything.
    If you have something good enough, you’re able to improve.


  • Rajendra Grewal

    1.”Expect the unexpected, or you won’t find it” .
     2.”That which opposes produces a benefit”.
    3. ” A wonderful harmony is created when we join together the seemingly unconnected”.
    4. “Lovers of wisdom must open their minds to very many things”Heraclitus = Greek philosopher

  • http://www.terryriordan.com/index.html Terryriordan_neemiller

    From my website:

    To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.  -William Shakespeare

    Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if
    you were to live forever.  -Mahatma Ghandi

    Creative activity could be described as a type of learning
    process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
    -Arthur Kestler

    The creation of something new is not accomplished by
    the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The
    creative mind plays with the objects it loves. -Carl Jung

    The whole difference between construction and
    creation is this; that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is
    constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
    -Charles Dickens

    I have no special talents.  I am only
    passionately curious.  -Albert Einstein

    If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.  -George Patton

    not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of
    your model. 
           -Vincent Van Gogh

    Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it
    we go nowhere.  -Carl Sagan

    It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to
    every object; beware of this stumbling block.  -Paul Gaugin

    not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.  -Henry David Thoreau

    left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think
    up if only you try!          -Theodor Geisel

    I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could
    ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should
    be curiosity.  -Eleanor Roosevelt

    The one real object of education is to have a
    man in the condition of continually asking questions.  -Bishop Mandell

    problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.  -Voltaire

    challenging your own assumptions.  Your assumptions are your windows on
    the world.  Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come
    in.  -Alan Alda

    Creativity involves
    breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different
          -Edward deBono

    job is not to make up anybody’s mind, but to open minds and to make the agony
    of the decision-making so intense you can escape only by thinking.  -Author Unknown

    We are all cups, constantly and quietly being
    filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful
    stuff out. -Ray Bradbury

    world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed
    without changing our thinking.  -Albert Einstein

    Don’t expect anything original from an echo.  -Author Unknown

    He who has imagination without learning has
    wings but no feet.  -Joseph Joubert

    There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a
    fuzzy concept.  -Ansel Adams

    I am often accused of being childish.  I
    prefer to interpret that as child-like.  I still get wildly enthusiastic
    about little things.  I tend to exaggerate and fantasize and
    embellish.  I still listen to instinctual urges.  I play with
    leaves.  I skip down the street and run against the wind.  I never
    water my garden without soaking myself.  It has been after such times of
    joy that I have achieved my greatest creativity and produced my best work.   -Leo
    F. Buscaglia

    The reluctance to put away childish things may
    be a requirement of genius.  -Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

    Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is
    tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. 
    ~-Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943

    It is better to fail in originality than to
    succeed in imitation.  -Herman Melville

    Whether you think you can or think you can’t,
    you’re right.    -Henry Ford

    think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.  -Clarence Darrow

    most damaging phrase in the language is:  “It’s always been done that
    way.”  -Grace Hopper

    now on, I’ll connect the dots my own way.  -Bill Watterson, Calvin
    & Hobbes

    Adults are always asking little kids what they
    want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas.  ~-Paula

    It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I
    stay with problems longer.  -Albert Einstein

    If you change the way you look at things, the
    things you look at change.-Dr. Wayne Dyer

  • http://twitter.com/Hector_DeLuna Hector

    Excellent quotes

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  • Rick Boersma

    Hi Gijs,

    Sorry for the slow response.  Just finished the list, and enjoyed it.  

    Here is one of my favourites, quoted in “Serious Play” a book on rapid prototyping published a decade or so ago by Michael Schrage.  

    The quote is from Danish scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet (which would make him a polymath?) Piet Hein:

    “The road to wisdom? Well it’s plain and simple to express: Err and err and err again but less and less and less.”

  • Michelestraga

    Dear Sirs, It is difficult for me to understand why, even if there is a person with a good idea regarding an extremely important subject such as the alternative energies, it is hard to find someone willing to
    invest some money on this, despote the fact that, in general, there is waste of money. No big financing is needed to realize this project, therefore it becomes really difficult for me to understand why nobody is willing to try.Do not think only about wind,sun,water,please consider also these projects that do not need these elements.With this mechanism i am confident to be able to reproduce an unbalanced continuos movement.This device coud revolution the way to produce energy.A financing is needed,is order to be finished.Why don t we try to create this prototype to get her?
    Michele Stragà
    If you are interested in,please contactme


  • Elshout

    Beste Gijs,

    Wat een mooie verzameling inspirerende quotes over innovatie. Wij zijn in contact met een aantal kunstenaars en professionals in de zorg die innovatieve ideeën hebben omgezet in werkbare methodes speciaal voor de dementerende mens. Bij deze stuur ik je de website, Mocht je interesse hebben om meer te weten over innovatie binnen de dementie zorg, helpen we je graag verder.

    Met vriendelijke groet,

    Diane Elshout en Noud Verhave
    artistieke leiding / organisatie landelijke conferentie
    Kunst en Dementie

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  • Anonymous

    Great quotations thanks! Here are a few others I like.

    1. Henry Ford “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

    2. Lin Yutang “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

    3. Bill Cosby
    I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

    Douglas Adams
    A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

  • Ratjovic

    Like the quotes.  Also like:

    “Worrying is inventing into the wrong direction” (Loesje)

  • Ad Ten Berg

    Dear Gijs,

    Nice quotes, I once encountered a quote “Most innovation fails, but companies that do not innovate fail”. The quote is from Sundgren of the Volvo group. For me it is very inspiring, since it is a very simple truth.

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  • bahz

    a friend of me said
    you will have plenty of time to think inside the box when you are dead :)

  • http://www.bankownedhomes.biz/ Foreclosure Dan

    When I see a quote and it says anonymous I get a little annoyed. I really want to know who said that. I wanna know who said “all good things come to an end.” I want to give that person a wet willy. Good things should never come to an end.

  • http://DarinEich.com/ Darin Eich

    Great list of quotes Gijs. Here is a slideshare of my 50 favorite innovation quotes: http://www.innovationtraining.org/innovation-quotes-for-an-innovation-mindset/

  • http://www.scrollmantra.com Sunil Kumar Prasad

    Great quotes, share us some mix of event cum pr

  • Alejandro

    Great Quotes! The right quote can help us to see light at the end of the tunnel, and give us that extra burst of hope and courage to persevere. Check out here http://creativityworkshop.com/everydaylife.html to live a everyday life in a creative way.

  • Tim H Gordon

    Does anyone know the quote “invention happens on a dead end street”?