Innovation, defined as way to create new ideas, processes, products, is often considered the gateway to business and societal success.
However, if you dig a little deeper, you will see that if the right questions aren’t asked, then often ‘innovation’ creates a cycle of problems needing to be solved, rather than actually developing ground-breaking, useful results.
I think that perhaps people have forgotten to ask the right questions. Innovation has become such a thing to strive for that it has lost its purpose. It’s time the use of innovation is re-examined.
Innovation in some circles has become useless, I hate to say it, as half of my degree is in innovation, but it truly has. And it’s because people are failing to see what the true point of innovation is. Let me give you an example.
Recently the Saudi Government have started building, as some call it, a truly innovative solution to a waste problem. Through a 20 billion dollar investment a large scale project has begun. 600 tonnes of rubbish a day will be removed from the vicinity of Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca through an underground network of pneumatic tubes to a rural station – removing excess rubbish.
Technically innovative? Yes. Profoundly innovative? Not at all.
Their failure lies in the process: did they ask the right questions? Fronted with a waste problem, they should have asked; how might waste creation be reduced or how might the city operate as a zero waste to landfill system? Or even, what new fabric can we create that can be used for packaging and be recycled? Instead they chose to solve an age old problem: where do we put our rubbish? By doing this another issue has been created. In a decade will that plant be able to manage 600 tonnes of rubbish a day? Will the tube system continue to be sustainable and affordable? It’s highly unlikely. And thus, a team of innovators will be assembled to create a solution, ensuring the cycle of useless innovation, and assumption based outcome development continues. This type of innovation creates a problematic cycle; true innovation should be breaking free of it.
We need not teach innovation, creation is human nature. We need to learn purposeful innovation that simply asks the right questions.