Use innovation to solve problems

Creativity is about invention or discovering the solution to a problem or even identifying that a problem exists.

Published: 20th January 2012 11:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:18 PM   |  A+A-

The words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are used synonymously in several contexts, but they have different meanings. Creativity is to do with having ideas while innovation is to do with executing those ideas. Let’s say it’s the difference between coming up with a brilliant idea to hoodwink your parents to bunk a class for a movie and actually coming up with a plan that can be executed. In other words, creativity is about invention ie making a breakthrough or discovering the solution to a problem or even identifying that a problem exists.

Innovation is about making that invention accessible, even if the accessibility is for a very small group of people.

If the invention improves an existing product, process, or service for the public, then it becomes an innovation.

On a creative plane, metaphorical thinking and abstraction are necessary to go past mental blocks and fear of failure. But when it comes to executing an idea, a person is forced to consider things from a practical point of view.

This is where i n n o v a t i o n comes into play.

We often see technology ventures and businesses applying the term ‘innovation’ to what they do.

This is because they are making technology available to the public. But can innovation be applied to everyday life? Not all of us are occupied with earthshaking problems (only our own problems seem to be earthshaking to us!). So how does innovation work in a daily context? Let’s look at an ordinary everyday problem that you may face. The public bus system in your city is unreliable.

You go to school late every other day and never hear the end of it from your teachers! What could you do in such a situation? Some ideas are to try and hitch a ride with your parent or neighbour if s/he is going the same way, to find out if a private van for school children is going via that route, to persuade your parents to buy you a bicycle, or to request someone for a drop near the train station if the train timings work out.

This is the idea part.

How you execute it is where you innovate. You’ll have to discuss and negotiate with the concerned people on why you think this is the best solution and convince them about its benefits. For instance, your parent might hesitate to take on the responsibility of dropping you at school every day because his/her office timings clash with your school timings and the parent has to leave at an earlier hour to get you to school in time. In this case, you can offer to share morning household chores so that both of you can be ready on time. If your parents think it’s too risky to buy you a bicycle and allow you to go to school by yourself, demonstrate your ability to ride the cycle ably and your commitment to road safety. You can suggest that they give you a trial run for short distances initially and then, when they are convinced, let you go all the way.

Innovation is all about problem solving within the framework of an idea. You need to put yourself in several pairs of shoes and think from multiple viewpoints to troubleshoot effectively! Happy boot hopping!

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