Some think that innovation is in technology. That is not true. Innovation is in the perspective. It lies in exploring, thinking of and implementing solutions that are born out of another perspective. Technology can help, but the ability to see things differently is what makes innovation. How can we teach people to have an innovative perspective? Basically, by learning to observe.
If you want to innovate, don’t ask anyone anything. Observe customers, citizens. Don’t pay so much attention to what they say, but rather to what they do and look to create value in needs which they do not yet know how to express.
Innovation feeds off different perspectives that arise from unexpected connections. It is like mixing turnips with cabbages but in a way that works. Inspiring these perspectives requires us to establish unusual conversations. And above all, it requires us to transcend expertise. Experts are very good at solving everyday problems, those that respond to “mainstream” business or technology. But when it comes to innovating in a disruptive manner, things change. Many of the innovations that today inhabit our lives did not emerge from the large incumbent companies of a particular sector. They were invented by people who, not knowing that it was impossible (according to the experts), took the leap and created value in a different way.
When the creators of the kinder egg decided to create something in between a treat and a toy, they applied a new perspective. When the creators of Chupa-Chups put a stick on a round-shaped candy, they did not achieve a great technological feat but they looked at things from a new perspective, which was simple and very practical. When the people at Synek want to serve beer using the same system as Nespresso (with beer capsules instead of coffee), they apply another perspective. The list is very long.
Training how you look at things is easier from a starting point of open innovation. That is, when companies overcome the “Not invented here” syndrome and seek to complement internal talent with external talent. It is not a question of people from outside coming to tell us what we have to do in our companies or organizations, but rather stimulating inspiration in order to find new perspectives based on experiences of other organizations from sectors that are very different to our own, but which can nurture the creativity in us.
Educating our perspective is a challenge. My experience is that people greatly improve their innovative perspectives when they learn to observe and to develop new proposals. Educating our perspective is absolutely possible and essential for those who seek to offer a more innovative profile.