Throughout history the success of nations has been based on their people’s ability and aptitude for innovation. Innovation makes it possible to outperform the competition and achieve a higher standard of living. If it were not for the English long-bow the English would not have been as effective against the French during the Hundred Years’ War, especially in the battles of Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and the famous Battle of Agincourt (1415).
In modern day innovation continues to be the mechanism by which to build societies and organizations. For example, MicroSoft’s success has arisen out of its development of a user friendly platform for the personal computer, Research In Motion built an international business and for many years has dominated the corporate cell phone market because of its innovative solution to protect the transmission and storage of data.
Innovation is about doing something better (cheaper, quicker, stronger, faster, farther, more effectively, etc.) than the way it is presently being done. Ultimately, in the business, military and even political arena it is about the ability to outperform the competition. With innovation comes spin-off benefits that include: improved quality of life, better safety, job creation, development of manufacturing, increased export and an overall improvement in national economy.
In many cases, it was one individual that came up with the idea behind the innovation. Such individuals are called inventors and although it may seem to many that inventors are born to be innovators, empirical evidence shows that average individuals can be turned into inventors, and managers, leaders and administrators into innovators.
Inventing is a category of innovation. Another category of innovation is found within organizations and among leaders and administrators. Innovation within organizations is just as powerful as inventing. Improvement in product design, delivery of services or even managing of operations can sometimes produce as much competitive advantage as creating a new invention. Though there is a significant overlap between 1) training of inventors and 2) training of innovators within organizations the challenges and focus of the two does require two different training programs.
INNOVATION AS AN ECONOMIC TOOL
A country’s ability to design, manufacture and market innovative products is a significant determinant of its ability to compete internationally. With the creation of new products and technologies support industries develop, such as design houses, tool and die shops, testing facilities, manufacturing facilities, repair shops, legal services, accounting services, banking services, administrative services and much more.
Often economies become reliant on a specific sector (oil) or outsourcing for foreign customers. This can lead to dependency on others and often softens the motivation to diversify business and industry. It is very important for countries to diversify their economies. To do this, it is necessary for people to learn to be innovators of new products and services which can stimulate new business. Diversification often helps companies and even countries gain world recognition as a “go to” place for new, original and innovative ideas and services.
CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT OF INNOVATION
The ongoing debate by psychologists as to whether an inventor is born or trained is rendered irrelevant when examining how to stimulate innovation within a country. It is true that individuals like Leonard DaVinci have been able to create a great wealth of inventions and contributed to innovation throughout the ages. However, it is also true that you individuals can be trained and turned into inventors with the ability to bring products to market. The Inventors Course, offered out of Toronto, Canada in collaboration with Venturemind Corporation offers a one week training program that promises to turn anyone into an inventor (details: info [at] metroactive.org). There is also an online version of the course for those that would like to receive the training over the internet.
Venturemind is now working with partnerships to bring both the Inventors Course and Innovation Program to countries in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa as economic development tools. These programs are a quick and cost effective way to product jobs. Proto-types for new inventions are usually created within a month of the course.
With the commercialization of new inventions, jobs are created almost instantly. Usually individuals are contracted at first to assist with things like design, delivery, packaging and later on to help with manufacturing and even research and development for product improvements or even new products.
Innovation doesn’t just create the very tangible financial and economic returns, it also contributes to a populace that is happier, has more confidence, is more involved, motivated and with a positive attitude towards the future. What better way to stimulate a struggling economy?