I have a confession. I don’t like peanut butter. I like peanuts. I like butter. But I have never liked peanut butter. I don’t hate it but I really don’t like it. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get passionate about it.

George Washington CarverToday, I want to talk a few minutes about someone who was passionate about the peanut, George Washington Carver. His journey from starting life as a slave to eventually testifying in front congress is an amazing story. Carver’s innovations centered on agriculture. Specifically, he worked to improve farming and develop uses for agricultural products. He found many new uses for the peanut and other products. His goal was simple, he wanted to make life better for poor farmers in the American South.

Here are two aspects of what Carver did that we can learn from.

  1. To increase the yield for all crops, he encouraged encouraging crop rotation by replacing cotton with such crops as soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts.
  2. He also created new products using soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts that increased the markets for these products.

Once you have developed a new product you often have to create or enlarge the market for your product. For example, in his case, Carver needed to increase the demand for peanuts, so he created new products that used the peanut. Everything from new things to eat to hair and grooming products.

Caver wanted to help famers and he loved what he did. He stated it this way, “If you love it enough, anything will talk to you.” So while you work with your innovation, take a look at what you want and why you want it. If you love what you do, it may even tell you what you need to do to be innovative.

This blog was originally posted June 19, 2014.