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The seven I's of innovation

By pa360, Jun 6 2015 01:33PM

At its best, innovation has the capacity to open up a world of opportunity, comfort and convenience. Innovation can offer greater choice, save time, raise productivity and increase accessibility. Whether it be in science, technology, transport and industry or any other area of human endeavour, the relentless pursuit of innovation has brought about transformational change and the advancement of nations.

Innovation is as much a state of mind as a creative process for getting from where you are to where you want to be. Personally, I do not believe that innovation can be taught, although I do believe that you can create the right conditions for it to flourish.

With this in mind, set out below are what I consider to be the seven I's of innovation.

1. Imperative - an imperative is what drives the innovator to act. It is the compelling reason for doing something as opposed to doing nothing. In project management speak, this scenario is described as the 'burning platform'.

2. Impatience - yes impatience! I have always believed that impatience is the oxygen of innovation. Truly great innovation is underpinned by an impatience with the status quo, with the constraints of bureaucracy and with the routine of going through the motions. It is this impatience that sparks the desire for change, builds the momentum for change and sustains the pace of change.

3. Idea - ideas are the seed of an innovation. An idea provides the basis for further discussion, exploration and development. Great ideas flourish in environments where people are given the right to try and the permission to fail.

4. Improvisation - improvisation is the art of survival. The most successful innovators are able to solve complex problems, at short notice with limited resources. If indeed the 'burning platform' is the compelling case to act, then the quick thinking innovator turns the 'burning platform' into a life raft.

5. Intuition - every great innovation is shaped by intuition or gut instinct for what works and what doesn't. This capacity for intuition also extends to understanding good timing and appreciating the risk environment. Powerful intuition will give you a feel for whether a great idea for today, may actually be a better idea for tomorrow.

6. Incubation - incubation is the period of time it takes for an idea to become an innovation. The process of incubation allows for testing, modification and re-testing. This attention to quality management and control, will help you to focus on, what the late Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs described as: 'making great product'.

7. Insight - great innovators are able to use insight to pattern spot, identify interdependencies and weigh up probabilities. Insight empowers the innovator to better understand what works and under what conditions. The most valuable insight is harvested from the widest range of relevant contributors and potential beneficiaries.

Clearly, innovation is a fluid and organic concept. As such, at different times there will be many other factors that contribute to successful innovation. However, the seven I's serve to underline the fact that innovation is not what you do, it is how you think.

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