Over the last few years the term innovation has been spoken about extensively in industrial, academic and professional settings. There are misconceptions of two types. On the one hand people with ideas and inventions being portrayed as innovators and on the other hand, people doing genuinely innovative things not being seen as innovators. Both arise due to a lack of conceptual clarity. Therefore, we as a community and nation are not quite sure about whether we’re innovating, and if so, how much innovation is happening.
Early last year I was invited to deliver a technical lecture on Innovation by the IMechE. During this lecture, I introduced my definition of innovation to the world. But before that, let us look at what innovation actually is.
Innovation is nothing new to humankind. We’ve been at it since the dawn of time. From discovering fire and realised its usefulness in keeping us warm and making our food taste better, to inventing the wheel and, landing on the moon, and more recently and significantly, developing the COVID vaccine, Innovation has been at the heart of most things. Take a look at the world around you, and you will see that innovation has been an inherent human characteristic.
The purpose then was to primarily survive, from predators and other dangers, then to grow, and finally to prosper.
The purpose today, as companies for us is, to survive, the various fluctuations in market and business, to grow, from small to medium to large enterprises, and then to prosper as a collective. Now, today’s world demands one more thing from us. Dwindling natural resources and a growing population mean, we must manage how we live, work and look after our planet. We must include sustainable practises in everything we do, as people, as companies, and as a society.
Sustainability is the need of the hour. How well we practise sustainability will determine how long we can survive. Now, I am not talking about just our generation. I am talking about the future generations and leaving the planet in a condition that enables our children and their children to survive, grow and prosper.
Keeping all this in mind, here is my definition of innovation: Any human effort or endeavour that enables us to survive, grow, prosper and practise sustainability is innovation.
This is precisely what the innovation part of Equitus Design Engineering and Innovations Limited, the company I founded in 2015 does.
Just as I close, I have two questions for you, and an action:
- How do you define innovation?
- How much do you innovate as an organisation?
- Know how innovation ready you are via the Equitus Innovation Hub