Passing on the innovation spark

Andrew Nimick
Point Concept

Innovation has been a hot topic of late; mid-September I attended the NZCS 50 Years of Innovation conference.
It was great as we got to hear from some of the most innovative Kiwi's in the ITC sector.

Then, a few days ago Brett Roberts of Business IQ posted an article on prior to heading for Melbourne to talk about the subject.
Brett used to be responsible for innovation at Microsoft New Zealand; and by the way, Microsoft is still a pretty innovative company, just take a look at their new home server.

I commented that innovation needs passion and innovative organisations need passionate leaders. There is a lot of both in the Kiwi technology sector, which was clear from the keynotes at #NZCS50.

So I was really interested when Alexander Osterwalden posted an interview on about innovation in which he made many comments about passion.

The IT sector is one where lowering costs can allow a little passion to really achieve great things. The development times for an idea to achieve some recognition have been reduced. The sizes of development teams needed to create applications is smaller. Building for the web or mobile means it's easier to create and then refine, it is easier to remain innovative with your core product for longer. There are no longer huge lead-up periods where an organisation has to pass the idea around the table.

We now have the situation where a single developer using cloud resources can develop something which once would have taken 10 or 20 people and 1000s of dollars.

In such an environment, innovation can become almost throw away. We should just do it and see; if it does not work, well, think of something else and start again.

In fact, innovation has to be almost throw away as it has to happen in increments more often than eureka moments. Look at Eddison and the light bulb.

Being willing to fail is important for the process on innovating and it seems to be something we do not encourage or teach to young students. So I was interested to find a post on just that subject, just before I finished this post. On the site is a piece on author Steven Johnson's new book. ‘Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History Of Innovation'.

And this comes back to a discussion at #NZCS50, how do we foster innovation? How do we engage young people to be the next innovators in IT?
It was generally agreed we needed to engage with schools and universities, but also that in doing so we needed to step away from teaching that IT was how to use a word processor and teaching how to create results and create tools.

I have no doubt that in order to teach innovation, we, the teachers must first become innovative.



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