Innovation is – as thought leader Peter Drucker describes – a tool. Daring and disruptive, it drives and delivers evolution and may be applied in varying degrees: “Purposeful, systematic innovation begins with the analysis of the sources of new opportunities,” he says.
In contradiction to the oft-considered scenario of the “light bulb moment” or exclusive to those of the highest range of IQs, innovation is work rather than genius. Bringing innovation to life requires a combination of “content” or subject knowledge, ingenuity, dedicated work, commitment and focus.
Innovation’s inception is in creativity – in imagining and creating in new ways of living, working and playing.
As Edward de Bono describes – and is evident across the evolution of the Israeli economy – creative or lateral thinking disposes of dominant logic thinking and instead focuses on generating many different options even beyond the implementation of a particular one – never accepting the status quo.
Innovation and creativity – stepping outside the realms of sameness, repetition and tradition into a world of full presence where challenging the status quo is embraced and each and every moment and opportunity fully explored – is largely at odds in the hierarchical and heavily regulated environments.
Layers of management, positional power, policy and procedure hobble, obstruct and disable these organisations from becoming as effective as they may be. This has been particularly true in the arenas of water utilities, public health and local government. Evolving technologies are deferred from not only reaching an operational status – but are also excluded in investigations, benchmarking and consideration.
Across Australian government entities such an approach may be deemed to be wasteful and laden with risk. Implementing any new initiative, improvement or process often requires negotiation of a series of hurdles or approvals – sometimes over years. In some arenas this approach may be well deserved (ie medical advancements and treatments) however in others we lag well behind our commercial and global counterparts (ie waste management, water services).
Creativity may be interwoven into the approaches and actions in varying degrees among each and every one of us. How do we enhance and translate individual creativity and innovation into the broader context of organisational or even a geographically regional approach? Evident in Start-Up Nation is the critical element of culture. Without a culture of embracing risk, questioning the status quo and seeking and celebrating diversity and a strong commitment to the “greater good” creativity will never truly reach its fully capacity.
Such a shift both individually and regionally requires a focus which may shift into generations – in particular if considering building a nation’s evolution into an innovation economy. For Israel, with a melting pot of cultures largely comprising refugees, the commitment of the country to its new people was married with their diversity, exposure to risk and starting again and their emerging loyalty.