Do you have it in you to innovate?

While I was commuting to office today, listening to Radio One’s morning drive show, I came to know that “Innovation” is the buzzword that has survived many decades now. The program section I was listening to had Sandeep Menon – the country marketing director of Google – talking about how innovation is a culture and environment in his company. He also added that perhaps due to its innovation culture, Google receives almost 10,000 resumes on daily basis!

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google’s innovation is not something new… I have been hearing about it since the start of this millennium, through many of the news reports. However the subject gained momentum when people started talking more of it every day through the web 2.0 – which started making a bang in 2005-06. Perhaps the industry in which Google operates, gave it a head start in doing what it does best… i.e. innovating in every aspect of its business – not just in its searches.

However, the point I wanted to talk about is “Innovation” in general. What is it after all? Is it creativity? Is it “being different”? Is it thinking “out of the box”? Let’s explore a few definitions…

  • The introduction of something new; a new idea, method, or device (Merriam Webster)
  • A new method, idea, product, etc. (Oxford)
  • The application of new solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. (Wikipedia)

What we have here is that as long there’s a new idea, method or a product, we have something called “Innovation”. By definition, it opens up immense possibilities, among all of us – not just restricted to people whose job-description is “innovation” – e.g. Director Global Innovation, Creative Technologist, Creative Director, etc. Anybody can innovate. Anybody can train himself/ herself to think innovatively, as long as there’s a new idea or method or a product / service is created, in doing so.

Many of us however do not accept this. Recently I fell into an awkward situation of expressing the above thought to a creative director. And lo! The person became extremely defensive… “I strongly feel that the idea of teaching/ training creativity is crap”… “creativity is natural…” “How can you teach a person to draw if he cannot hold the brush…” “Creativity is God Gifted… one can’t teach someone to sing…” etc. etc.

Frankly, while his arguments may sound to have some amount of truth, the same can be counter-argued smoothly. What’s important to understand and accept is that “Innovation” or “Creativity” is something which builds upon / comes as a result of something that’s natural. One cannot train someone to create a voice or hold a brush or tap a foot, unless he / she does it naturally. This comes from basic ability or competence of the individual.

However, one can definitely help shape things up, based upon his / her level of acquired competence. One can really teach an individual how to use his brain or limbs in a certain way so that he’s able to innovate… isn’t it?

At least I’d like to believe so… what about you?

UPDATE – The Global Innovation Index ranks India the 66th in terms of scale of innovation – much lower than even Hong Kong or Singapore. The rank has gone down by 2 points since 2012. However, India features among top 5 in innovation efficiency.  Are we very slowly running out of our creativity and innovation?

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