What is innovation?

"What is innovation?" by Greg Alder

We are born. We innovate. At first we have no choice. Everything is a new experience, demanding.

Then we go to school. We are taught to conform. We do exams. There are questions to which there’s one acceptable answer.

We go to work. We learn what’s expected of us. The more we do it, the faster and more efficiently we do it.

We have forgotten how to innovate. We have lost the taste for new experiences because they can make us uncomfortable.

And yet that never crossed our minds as children.

For me, innovation is all about unlearning.

Innovation is about being taught how to look for a second right answer. Or a third. It’s about looking at a familiar face upside down. It’s about taking Robert Frost’s road less travelled.

To be innovative is to be childish, adventurous, inquisitive, naïve, humble, disobedient, observant, questioning and contrarian.

To be innovative means being hungry for new experiences, new tastes, new skills.

It also means being occasionally wrong, misunderstood, alienated, ridiculed and uncomfortable.

The most innovative thinkers are people who have learnt to make creativity a daily habit.

(This article first appeared in the inaugural issue of Fast Thinking, a great Australian magazine on innovation.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *