We had the opportunity to participate in the workshop “Innovation in companies” organized by the Unión Argentina de Jóvenes Empresarios [Argentinian Union of Young Businessmen] (UNAJE) given by Rolando Meyer, industrial engineer of the ITBA, Design Thinking teacher at Universidad de San Andrés and co-founder of the mobile shopping app Tobuy. We met Rolando in the tenth edition of the South American Business Forum (2014), and in this workshop he showed us the advantages of leaving our comfort zone and plunging into the wonderful world of innovation.
“To innovate is to transform knowledge”
The term “design thinking”, so in vogue nowadays in large and small organizations, refers to the designers’ way of thinking applied to business. To innovate is nothing else that to work on something that doesn’t exist, to work in the future. To do it, we must bear in mind certain maxims:
- “Un-learning is as important as learning”.
- “To innovate is to challenge the status quo”.
- “Everything that exists today was once imagined”.
A starting point is not to have fixed limits in the creative process, to go beyond feasibility, since every innovation in its time was slightly feasible or viable. We may well say that the best part of learning from mistakes is having made them.
An innovator is someone who is after the novelty, without asking why but why not and what for.
We are all creative since childhood, but we unlearn it. We cease marvelling about the contingent of the reality and the world and we content ourselves with a superficial and comfortable look. Everything around us might not have been, but it is. And we take it for granted. We must again trust in our creative eye and marvel at our surroundings.
Those shooting stars called ideas…
Ideas come and go. They appear when we are not looking for them. At any time. They are untimely. Taking into account the untimeliness ideas may have in their origin, it is always advisable to write down, whether it is in paper or in screen, what our intellect creates. And not to fool ourselves by saying, “I’m going to remember it”. If we let them go we may not see them again since, in this sense, ideas resemble shooting stars.
“It is not about how good you are, but how good do you want to be”
While ideas are like shooting stars, the creative process and the act of thinking can be compared with a physical activity: it needs training. There is a series of steps and basic attitudes to give birth to ideas. These steps or “ingredients” are as follows:
- The collection of information, of the raw material we extract directly from information sources. It is determinant in our context and environment.
- The chewing of the information, the analysis. The tasting of the idea.
- Then, the incubation. An internal process in which our brain matures the processed information from our environment.
- This whole process can lead to the idea. It is important to write it down!
- The adaptation is important, because every idea is an anecdote of what it is going to be.
Once the idea generation process is known, we must highlight the mood and attitude that lead us to be a serial idea generator. Some proactive attitudes are:
- Confidence attitude, believing. There are opportunities everywhere, we just need other eyes. To readapt our look.
- Serendipity attitude. An induced causality. Attention to what is happening around us. Attentive and sharp mental predisposition. Predisposition to see.
- Exploratory attitude. Not only externally, but internally. To develop our sensitivity.
- “Doer” attitude, action oriented, always doing and trying, over and over again.
- A combined planning and improvising attitude. These two extremes are too rigid and too flexible at the same time but are important in any creative process.
- Stubborn attitude, always doing “trial and error”.
- “I ask for forgiveness but not for permission” attitude, disrespect for the status quo. Enough madness to think about changing the world, and being able to do so.
- Inspiring attitude. We live in this world and we are inspired by models. Copy-paste attitude: we take things from others.
Finally, it is difficult to think differently but to do so we must take into account how things were done in the past. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, for example, it was unthinkable that there was another continent in the world (America!). At the end of the twentieth century, the iPhone was almost unfeasible.
The creativity issue lies in inducing the unthinkable thinking. Every idea is a combination of old elements. We must go beyond. Urgency may be the mother of innovation.
Why being realistic if reality can be changed? Are you ready to innovate?