How To Think About Innovation Differently

Bobby Gruenewald opens up the first official session of the Catalyst Atlanta Lab. Bobby is the Pastor and Innovation Leader at He’s also the founder of the YouVersion Bible App.

How to think about innovation differently

Are We Predictable?

Amazingly, we are pretty predictable. And we don’t even realize it.

A few years ago, there was a study done where 6 couples were dropped off in Washington DC and told to find a time and place to meet with each other.

5 of the 6 couples were able to find each other at the Washington Memorial at noon.

Keep in mind, these couples had never met each other or talked. They broke down where they were, where the easiest place to meet would be, and the opportune time.

We’re predictable…

How To Think About Innovation Differently

Embrace constraints – In meetings, it’s often touted that we need to think outside the box. This rarely works with practical ideas.

We need to, instead, begin embracing constraints. This allows us to create practical ideas that will work.

If you have limited resources, you have one of the key ingredients for innovation.

When you have all the resources, there’s no need for innovation. You can continue on the same path as you have always traveled.

By taking away the resources, you can begin to focus in on what’s important. Look at the resources you can take away that will make you think inside the box but challenge your ability to succeed.

Small thinking – The bigger we are, the less risk we want to take. We see our success and don’t want to risk it.

However, when you begin to think of yourself as small, you see new opportunities. You are able to take challenges on because you see that there’s nothing to lose.

If we think we are big and significant, our risks will be small and insignificant

Move fast, follow momentum – The future is always changing.

Bobby is frequently asked what the future in 5 years will look like. He’s always like “I have no idea.”

By looking so far into the future, we lose momentum. You don’t see the big picture.

Do not plan…. Prepare

Instead, take the mindset of moving fast. See what’s coming, take action.

The good news is, you don’t have to be right. You have to move.

Data has a seat at the table – There’s a good reason to bring data to the table. It shows the results of our work.

Too many people don’t want to give credence to data. They believe it holds them back and doesn’t have context.

But data is good. It tells you how you’re progressing. It tells you if you’re effective. It tells you how well of a job you’re doing.

The only thing worse than not having momentum is having momentum and not knowing why.

Fear of failure – People get hung up with the fear of starting.

We’re scared to put our foot out. But there are other aspects to the fear of failure.

Failure rears its ugly head in other arenas as well.

Sometimes we’re scared to give up because of failure. We are held back by the thought of the fear of failure that we can’t give up on an idea. And this prevents us from succeeding.

Never ever, ever, ever, ever give up is terrible advice for innovation.

You won’t truly overcome the fear of failure until you are willing to stop doing something that failed.


But by quitting, we can find the true spot of innovation. Just take a look at the Bible app.

This app originally began as a website. And it sucked.

No one was using it. No one wanted it. Then innovation struck.

They decided to can the project. During the closing of it, they began to look at why it wasn’t succeeding.

That’s when they realized people were using their computers less and using their phones more. This was a key moment in the innovation of the Bible app.

The insight allowed for the LifeChurch team to pivot and create an app that has gone on to great success.

To do things that no one else is doing, we can’t do what everyone else is doing.

What Is Your Failure Resume?

Many people don’t like to keep a list of things they’ve done wrong. Who wants to look at their failures?

Yet this is one of the greatest things you can do.

By building a list of your failures, you can see what you’ve done and what you’ve learned. This is an amazing resource.

Begin keeping a list of what’s happened and what you learned. Your eyes will be opened to new possibilities.

Follow Me

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.