Last fall I attended Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with my family. I really enjoyed the movie until the car ride home. You see my kids had all read the books several times and were discussing various aspects of the story. I was not able to join in the conversation because although I had read some of the books in the past, I remembered very little. I decided that I would try to read the novels again before Part 2 comes out this summer.

Now I do like to read, but I read some fiction, some business books, some non-fiction. It had been a long time since I focused on just reading fiction. Something interesting happened as I began to spend more time in the world of Harry Potter. It became easier to access my imagination. The value of accessing our imagination cannot be overvalued in the area of innovation. You must be able to see possibilities that you could not see before, you must be able to imagine a better future.

As I thought about this, I wondered if I could quantify any improvement. Did my performance at work improve because I was reading fiction? I came to the conclusion that it had. Not that I was faster or more efficient at what I was doing, but that I was more open to new possibilities. Just as my mind spent more time in my imagination by reading, it also spent more time in my imagination while I was trying to solve problems and work out solutions. And that is one of the keys to innovation, often our solutions come in the undiscovered country of our imagination.