Can We Learn To Innovate?

We are all potential innovators

Most often, when talking about innovation, we think about product and technology. However, innovation is applicable to many areas.

To caricature a bit, one could say that there are as many types of innovations as there are fields of activity and sub-areas of activity. Let’s take some sectors of the economy: finance, customer service, management, marketing, logistics, societal.

What does innovation mean?

The economist Shumpeter was one of the first to theorize about innovation by seeing in our economy different crucial stages in its growth: steam, electricity, computing. To summarize, we can say that innovation is defined by actions that bring a positive change to our everyday life, by among others:

Introducing a facilitator element,
Re-inventing,
digitizing,
Simplifying…

The innovator translates an idea into something that creates value. His action is part of a commonly identified cycle:

Finding a need,
Producing an idea,
Translating it into a solution,
Creating value

How are ideas generated?

Those who seek it say that you have to get out of your comfort zone or become a child to be able to observe and listen to your environment in a way that is attentive, interested and free of obstacles. Most often, this involves finding a better way to do what we are used to. Ideas come in identifying problems to solve or challenges to overcome.
Let’s take the places where we spend most of our time:

  • Our city
  • Our house
  • Our school
  • Our company

They represent a certain number of people with a certain number of problems and needs (employees, customers, suppliers, students, inhabitants …)
Think about your area of expertise and try to identify a problem to solve within this community.

Confront your observations. It is very likely that you will find, through observation, areas for improvement to bring to the daily lives and habits of these people.

Evolution or revolution?

Will you be an evolutionary innovator by creating the same product in a less polluting manner (ex: making a plastic based on algae) or revolutionary by creating the rupture and introducing a disruptive process (ex: launching an alternative financing system)?

Whatever the model chosen, innovation is not about doing more, but about doing less and better, to get optimum results. So let’s try to apply this to all our entrepreneurial efforts.