Why Having a Process Doesn't Make You an Innovator

Having a process doesn't make you an innovator. That's a strange thing to hear from someone who has created a new innovation process.

Jorge Barba says that people love to trust formulas and fancy consultancies with their golden ratios who cram everything into the same cookie cutter mold. But innovation doesn't work that way. One size doesn't fit all.

However, innovation is a practice done by people, with the emphasis on people. That's why the promise of innovation by Artificial Intelligence is dubious, because innovation is a human practice. Humans assign meaning and make sense of it all.

What Is Innovation?

Innovation is like light. For ages, scientists have debated what light really is. Is it a wave, a particle, or both? 

Innovation, likewise, is tricky to define. Is it a noun, or a verb? Is it a process? Or, is it people? Recently, The Harvard Business Review searched their archive to shed some light on this "chicken or egg" puzzle.

Innovation can be defined in various ways, but what it it really? Ultimately, innovation is a practice done by people. However, it's not just DNA. It can be learned. Furthermore, innovation is more of a verb than a noun. It’s a verb that produces nouns.

Can Innovation Be Taught?

Wharton Business recently asked, "Can Creativity Be Taught?" Their conclusion is "yes!" Creativity belongs to everyone, not just prodigies. Wharton professor Rom Schrift explains, "There are individual differences in people, but I would argue that it is also something that can be developed, and therefore, taught.”

Can innovation be taught? My answer is an emphatic “yes!” Innovation is a practice, done by people. To better understand how innovation can be taught, it’s helpful to compare alchemists and prospectors. For both, the prize is gold.

Alchemists are said to possess the rare ability to

See Innovation, Say Innovation

After the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, straphangers in the New York City subway system began to see posters displaying the ubiquitous message: "See Something, Say Something." This iconic phase was coined by advertising legend Allen Kay.

Wikipedia notes:

Since 2002 the campaign has evolved from simple print ads to television spots, increasing the reporting of suspicious packages from 814 in 2002 to over 37,000 in 2003. Today, more than 30 transit systems use a version of Kay's innovative "See Something, Say Something" campaign.

Over the years, the campaign has taken many