How to be an Innovator
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear innovation? It's probably Facebook, the Internet, electricity and countless other inventions that have changed our live forever. But the truth can't be further from that. Innovation comes from each level of our lives and society and it's not necessarily life-changing. This is the topic that we will explore in this article: How you can be an innovator in your daily life and in your business.
What exactly is innovation?
Innovation has many faces on many different levels but mainly stems from one thing - the desire for doing things more efficiently or to help others in making their lives more efficient. As we've previously mentioned innovation is not always about big bold inventions but it's everywhere. Look around in your workplace what procedures have you created to work more effectively and waste less time? Or even in your personal life, maybe while instead of waiting for your kid to finish training you shop during the meantime so you waste less time? Innovation can be small steps that accumulate with time but it can also be about taking risks and plunging into the unknown.
But there's one thing that can't be stressed enough and that is innovation requires conscious experimentation and it doesn't occur by itself.
You don't need money to be an innovator
That's right, let us give you the example of the Jaipur foot. There's a high demand for artificial limbs in the poorest areas in the world but we know that they can be expensive. This is why Dr. Pramod Sethi and the sculptor Ram Chandra set out to create a solution, the Jaipur foot. It's an artificial limb that is made from spent artillery shells and truck tyres, resources that most people would view as trash but in the right hands they changed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Since its inception in 1975 the Jaipur foot has helped almost a million people worldwide. You may ask how much does it cost? In India, for example it's sold for only 28$, whereas prosthetics run in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Pharmaceutical companies are one of the biggest spenders on RnD in the world
What you need is to create value
That value can be in the market or it can be social. Let's take a look again at the Jaipur foot . It created captured social value by helping people and affecting their live positively. Same can be said for creating and capturing market value. For example the creation of the Super Soaker a toy water gun, which brought joy to millions and made his inventor almost an overnight multi-millionaire. Although, a simple it invention it fulfilled a need in people's lives to have fun and in return he made profit out of it. Of course, innovation can capture both social and market value. There are drugs that allow people with certain conditions that were fatal before to lead a normal life , the selling of said drugs making the pharmaceutical companies healthy profits and in return the companies use a big part of the profits for Research and Development (RnD) to create even more advanced and efficient medicine to combat new diseases.
How is innovation important for business?
Let's take a look at Kodak and Polaroid one of the biggest industry giants in the camera film industry. They were very innovative for their time, which in return helped them capture enormous amounts of market value and to dominate the camera industry but where are they now? While they still exist they no longer have such a high stake on the market and are shadows of their former selves. You might ask why, the reason is very simple - They failed to innovate and embrace the new technologies, namely, digital cameras and by the time they started working on creating their own models they were already surpassed by tens of other companies, leading to their downfall.
This is why it's important to recognize that innovation is important at every level and you have to innovate to keep up.