One of the greatest innovators of all time was Leonardo da Vinci. His works are known to all and include innovations so advanced that they could not be built for 400 years. His mind and imagination set the standard for all of us to emulate.

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci.

He was born in 1452 near Florence, Italy, studied under famous painters and sculptors of the time and started his own independent work in 1475. The rest of his long life were spent innovating new painting, sculpting and building methods. He is the most prolific innovator in history. How did he, living in this time period, accomplish so much? He used these seven techniques that you, too, can develop:

  1. The quest for continual learning. By cultivating your natural curiosity and pursuing the most interesting subjects, teach yourself to be an expert
  2. Testing your knowledge through practical experience. Use your hands and tools to build and experiment with the subjects that interest you. There is great understanding to be gained by building models and prototypes.
  3. Sharpen your senses. Practice using all five of your senses to truly observe the world around you. Focus on improving how you interpret what your senses are telling you. Leonardo believed you could increase your intelligence with enhanced use of your senses
  4. Be comfortable with uncertainty. You don’t need to have the answer for everything. Being comfortable with an unanswered concept will settle your mind and release your creativity
  5. Balance logic and imagination. Focus on using both to problem solve, without relying just on the left or right brain functions. Imagine first how to create, then apply logic to make it workable.
  6. Develop poise of body and mind. It was reported that Leonardo was in exceptional physical shape throughout his life. He worked until his death at 67 years old, which was double the life expectancy of that time. He felt that to fully use your intelligence, you must have physical strength.
  7. Maintain a big picture perspective. always keep your thinking tied to the big goals and perspective of the time. This will keep your specific project on track.

These principles are great advice for all of us that strive to be Innovators. We can all use these in our daily lives to improve our thinking and our thought output.

To learn more detail about these principles, use the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, which can be found at Amazon.

Imagine all the creative concepts our industry could see if we all used these time tested methods!

Keep Innovating!



  1. Nice article again Ray. I sent this to my son in college for inspiration. He’s a sophomore now at Montana State studying Mechanical Engineering and had a good first year. He wanted AAMA to know that his scholarship was appreciated. Please share the word.

  2. Thanks for the kind words on the concept of this blog! I will also pass on the appreciation to AAMA… Ray

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