What does it take to be innovative?

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in emc | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Today was EMC’s annual Innovation Conference, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend in person again.

I wanted to blog this before the conference – and I wish I would have because I was very surprised that what I wanted to blog about was discussed by several of the speakers.

Here is my opinion of the ingredients needed for innovation:

  • Firm understanding of the fundamentals. This is where education comes in. You need to understand the concepts of a discipline, you need the vocabulary and current theories.
    You also need to understand the history of your discipline – because all concepts and theories are formed from political and other filters (they are never 100% scientific and neutral).
  • The ability to try and fail – over and over again. Once you are armed with a firm understanding of the fundamentals of your discipline, you need to be in an environment where you can test out theories.
    You have to be in an environment where its ok to say “I wonder what would happen if I…….”. If the idea fails, you need a safe environment to learn from the failure and try something else.

Both of those points were made over and over again today at the Innovation Conference. It was great to hear!

One Response to What does it take to be innovative?

  1. Howard says:

    Hey Gina;
    Good points and your fundamentals would make a good educational agenda. I especially like the historical understanding of one’s discipline. I would consider 2 additional aspects.
    1, To fundamentals: There are some ideas that cut across disciplines. You could say the zeitgeists of the age. I think these are big influences on where disciplines tend to be going.
    2. To the environment I would add collaboration. I’m thinking of something similar to Steven Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From” at ted.com where we need others to fully complete our concepts and actions.

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