Imagination over Innovation


In the world of business, the word repeated in every meeting, discussion and proposal which continues to be grossly misused and overused is innovation.

When did we get such a fixation on this little word, what does it really mean and what are we focussing on to realise innovation?

“Innovate

(1) make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

(2) introduce (something new, especially a product).”

Innovation, the action or process of innovating, is associated with the realisation and implementation of something,  be it a business, a product, model or service. This can include iterations, not just greenfield innovation.  However, the more I look and hear about innovation, I have to question whether innovation is not merely the output of something else and whether we’ve been focussing on only a part of what initially creates a business, product, model or service.

“Imagination

the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.”

It is imagination that is the spark toward innovation. It underpins everything from the accommodation company with no accommodation to the reusable launcher boosters returning to earth and many more.

So what is imagination, what does it really look like, how does it manifest? If imagination is the source of innovation should we not be nurturing it?

Developing the imagination is about taking what we know, seeing the connections, seeing the past and constantly exposing ourselves to the unknown, the different and even the uncomfortable. Taking away the structures and barriers that subconsciously shape our thinking. Giving ourselves the chance to passionately yet objectively see the unseen.

Creativity is the mechanism to take something from the imagination to realise innovation.

“Creativity

the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.”

There is no prescriptive approach to creativity. However, there are tools and mechanisms the world over, from the cafe debate environment to the structured group workshops.

There are many methods of improving creativity, this post is not here to start listing these. This post is to stress the underpinning requirements to getting the imagination going in the first place: Here’s to the new experiences, here’s to the discussions, the debates, the worlds we enter, the questions we ask and the wonder, as well as the challenges we can find in our day-to-day.

Here’s to nurturing the imagination, innovation will follow.

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