29 of the best innovation quotes to inspire your work

These famous quotes about innovation from J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, and more will give you a whole new perspective

Illustration by Alana Peters/The We Company

Business innovation can help drive a company’s success, and in order for a company to be innovative, it has to have a mindset and processes in place that allow it to be truly open to new ideas. The 29 quotes below can help inspire you to think outside of the box. 

Best innovation quotes for business

1. “A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

2. “Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” —Alfred North Whitehead

3. “Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” —William J. Cameron

4. “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” —Rollo May

5. “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” —Theodore Levitt

6. “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” —Albert Einstein

7. “Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation, in its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” —J. K. Rowling

8. “It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago but will soon be out of date.” —Roger von Oech

9. “Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.” —William James

10. “When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” —Walter Lippmann

11. “I am looking for a lot of people who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” —Henry Ford

12. “If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it.” —Gordon MacKenzie

13. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” —Alan Kay, computer scientist 

14. “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” —Brené Brown

15. “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” —Charles Kettering

16. “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” —Carl Jung

17. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” —Albert Einstein

18. “Swipe from the best, then adapt.” —Tom Peters

19. “The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites.” —Carl Jung

20. “We don’t know who discovered water, but we’re certain it wasn’t a fish.” —John Culkin

21. “Innovation—any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience.” —Warren Bennis

22. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

23. “Never confuse motion with action.” —Ernest Hemingway

24. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” —Steve Jobs 

25. “The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.” —Thomas Carlyle

26. “Innovation opportunities do not come with the tempest but with the rustling of the breeze.” —Peter Drucker

27. “No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered.” —Winston Churchill

28. “Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.” —Barbara Corcoran

29. “If I have 1,000 ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.” —Alfred Nobel

Kate Bratskeir is a writer for WeWork’s Ideas by WeWork, focusing on sustainability and workplace psychology. Previously, she was a senior editor at Mic and HuffPost. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, Health, Travel & Leisure, Women’s Health, and more. 

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