Workshop “What is Innovation” .
Innovation In Mind conference, September 2013, Lund, Sweden
Why is it important to discuss what innovation is and can be? Because it determines the ability to spot new opportunities and ideas, as well as the value we attribute to them. Expectations, assumptions, and beliefs govern perception. A broad view makes it possible to appreciate novel phenomena of different types and shapes, originating in different contexts. A narrow view excludes ideas that could have great potential value and usefulness.
The view on what innovation is, and can be, is highly relevant for open innovation. Today it is increasingly accepted that no single organization can have all the best ideas internally, however good it is. Openness to new phenomena in the external environment is crucial Understanding the full breadth of innovation is also crucial for generation and elaboration of one´s own ideas – the strengths of a wide range of options to draw from.
There are many definitions of innovation, used in different contexts and for different purposes. There is no single “correct” definition; the realm of innovation comprises a wide range of novel endeavors, from art to business, from independent entrepreneurs to big corporations, and from social innovations to for-profit enterprises. However, the most typical view on innovation still reflects a producentric perspective – a legacy from the industrial era.
Now an inclusive view is needed, that also includes decentralized innovation. Conventional and narrow definitions are not relevant for increasing portion of innovations. The innovation landscape is wider and flatter than ever before. It is also dynamic; the pace of change is rapid.
The objective with this workshop project was to broaden the view on innovation and bringdifferent interpretations into a common framework that allows discussions on innovation in one and the same space.
In preparation for this workshop, six young people active in different fields of education and business were asked to prepare their personal definition of innovation, relevant to their respective field. At the workshop, they presented their definitions, with comments and clarifications. The definitions were placed in a number of charts (see below).
The completed charts show that the importance attributed to different aspects of innovation varies considerably. Context, specific interests, and many other factors may contribute to this diversity of views. It should be emphasized that this project was not a scientific study, and the results can not be generalized. That said, the results of the workshop indicate that the view on what innovation is differs across different fields of knowledge. Appreciating and accepting this diversity of views is important because it allows recognition of the broad opportunities for innovation; in contrast, a narrow view, and single definitions, will limit the field of vision.
The methodology used for this workshop could be used as a guide for proper research. The charts could be used in such studies but also for exploring different aspects of ongoing and planned innovation projects.
I thank the participants for their excellent work, and for making the workshop successful and fun to work with.