How to Be More Innovative In Your Daily Life

Dan Frysinger helps companies and organizations discover new ways to be innovative. In our conversation, Dan shares easy ways that anyone can be innovative in their own work and life.


Your title is cooler than most. Tell me about your work.

As an innovation strategist I help clients identify new opportunities, develop offerings, and build business models: from developing consumer insights for a new line of Kraft Foods pasta sauce, to creating an organization-wide approach to innovation for a pharmaceutical devices company.

Describe a day in your life as an Innovation Strategist. 

I’ll share some of my important habits: Throughout the day I start a timer for each of my projects to ensure my time is measurably going toward them and to help me stay focused. I use the apps Multi Stopwatch and Timer.

Throughout the day I recharge my energy, observation, and patience in micro-doses by briefly strolling and taking in details of my surroundings.

What does someone need to be innovative? How can they start?

  1. Observe and question mysteries or problems around you.

  2. Pursue the answers through a series of hypotheses.

  3. When one of those issues strikes your passion, collaborate with people to build and test solutions.

  4. During that journey, embrace the cycles of divergent/convergent thinking.

How can someone apply innovation to their everyday life?

Occasionally change something about your routine, surroundings, or how you consume information.

For example, one day I walked home a different way and heard church bells. Wondering if they were real, I Googled the church and connected with a bell expert who wrote an article on that church. Now I collaborate with that bell expert as Chicago Bell Advocates to uncover stories of tower bells and restore them and we’re giving a tour of Chicago’s hidden bells this June!

What tools or resources help you to be innovative?

Have you encountered obstacles to innovation? How did you overcome it?

Obstacle: Uncertainty.

Solution: Just prototype it!

For example, I was in a meeting with my favorite community organization, Chicago Cares, and we were questioning whether people would participate in an activity we were planning. We had sketched the user journey to identify all touch-points, however we were unsure whether our initial hook was compelling.

So in the middle of the meeting I dialed a friend who fit our target audience and I invited her to our hypothetical event… and she said “Yeah, I would totally come!” I then revealed that this was only a prototype, and asked for her feedback.

This on-the-spot, partial prototype saved useless conjecturing, and forced us to articulate what was in our heads. Plus, provided immediate feedback.

A conversation with Chicago-based Innovation Strategist Dan Frysinger